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29 June, 2019
07 July
All-Star Five: Filip Petrusev (SRB), Marko Pecarski (SRB), Arturs Zagars (LAT), Joel Ayayi (FRA), Nikita Mikhailovskii (RUS)
30/06/2019
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History, Ayayi-Petrusev connection add intrigue to France v Serbia showdown

HERAKLION (Greece) - France v Serbia was billed to be one of the top showdowns in the Group Phase of the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 2019. Both teams have lived up to their end of the bargain to set up a battle with plenty of intrigue.

Both European sides knocked off China and Puerto Rico and will enter the Group D encounter with first place going to the winner. On top of that, the game will be a re-match of the Semi-Finals of the FIBA U18 European Championship 2018 - won by Serbia. Oh, and two of the top stars of the game are teammates in college in the United States.


Serbia prevailed 78-67 at the Semi-Finals in Latvia en route to the U18 European title with Marko Pecarski leading the way as he collected 27 points and 12 rebounds. The big man picked up 21 points and 14 rebounds in Serbia’s tough 75-74 victory over Puerto Rico to give them a 2-0 mark in Group D - a game which he said serves as a wake-up call for the European champs going into the Tuesday battle with France.

"This was a great game for us to wake up and put more energy into our game. Now we have a day of rest and we will prepare for a tough game against France," said Pecarski, who was the MVP of the U18 European tournament last summer.

“WE BOTH HAVE TO BE LOCKED IN AND READY TO KILL - EVEN THOUGH I HOPE (FILIP PETRUSEV) IS NOT GONNA KILL US.”- Ayayi

Joining Pecarski on the U18 European All-Star Five were compatriot Filip Petrusev and Joel Ayayi of France, who bounced back to finish third. Petrusev and Ayayi have gotten to know each other well since last summer as they teamed up for Gonzaga University in the US.

"We have had a year together as teammates. It's pretty cool to play against your teammate at a World Cup. We have both gotten a lot better," Ayayi said.

"We know them from playing against them last year and we played them before the tournament. We know each other, it's going to be for first place in the group. I'm just gonna go out and play hard," Petrusev added. "Me and Joel are always talking trash to each other. So it's gonna be fun."

Ayayi also offered up: "We both have to be locked in and ready to kill - even though I hope he's not gonna kill us."

“ME AND JOEL (AYAYI) ARE ALWAYS TALKING TRASH TO EACH OTHER. SO IT'S GONNA BE FUN.”- Petrusev

The French guard anticipates a high-level battle, especially because the game pits two European powers going at it on the global stage.

"It's gonna be a big-time game. We still have a lot to prove against them. They were the ones who took us out last year. But it will also be a normal game for us. When you play against European teams in a World Cup you know them for a while and you want to prove that you got better from last year. And I think we learned a lot and it will be a good game," Ayayi concluded.

FIBA