EuroBasket 2022 | We are Serbia, who are you? Welsch on the giant that the Czechs are chasing: Admiration

Is Serbia the biggest EuroBasket favorite for you?
“For me, he is the biggest favorite of our group and one of the three biggest favorites of EuroBasket. The other two are Germany and France. They have been the top team for a long time and I said Germany because they have a very good team and they play at home. Let’s not forget that they won the European Championship at home in 1993.”

What is the biggest advantage of Serbia, Saturday’s Czech opponent?
“Quality and strong individuality. They have the best player in the world, which is Nikola Jokic. Vasilje Micič returned from injury and is one of the best players in Europe. Plus, he’s a point guard/pivot combination, which usually works.”

What impresses you the most about Nikola Jokic?
“He’s a more modern version of Arvydas Sabonis. His body is difficult to compete with due to the combination of pounds and centimeters, but at the same time he has incredible skills. For me, he is a playmaker in the body of a pivot, which gives him huge variability in the game. He has incredible passing skills, in addition to scoring and rebounding. His playmaking is what makes him the best player.”

He is slow, yet plays extremely athletic pivots in the NBA. You get it?
“I honestly don’t have much of an answer to that. To me, he is the same pun as Luka Dončič. He also moves slowly around the field, but it’s almost like it’s an advantage, because the defenders seem to expect him to sprint and jump high, but he suddenly slows down in a two-stroke. These fighters can actually turn this to their advantage.”

Imagine you are a coach and you are making a defensive plan against Jokic. What will it be like?
“I would take a player and tell him that he has to try to win the fight before Jokic gets the ball. Then it’s hard. A similar tactic as described by Jirka Zídek when he played against pivots in the NBA. He always ran to the defense, he slowed down halfway, that’s where he gave him the first shot. Then he slowed down to six, gave him a second blow, and only then began to fight him.’

Who in the Czech team could defend Jokic?
“The kilos and centimeters point to Ondra Balvín, but I don’t know if he has the mentality for it. And then probably Honza Veselý. I think Martin Kříž will be very small and light. But he has a mentality, it’s one of the options.”

What makes Vasilje Micič stand out, star of Anadolu Efes Istanbul and MVP of the last two Euroleague Final Fours?
“With his versatility, scoring from all possible positions. I have him pegged as a player who is able to get fouled when things aren’t going well, step up to the free throw line and score two points. He mainly proved that he is a winner in his head, he can take the winning shot and deliver it on the biggest podium and stage.

Nikola Kalinič is an extremely important man for black work, isn’t he?
“He’s important, but I’ve never been a fan of him personally. I respect his quality and defensive skills. When we talk about having stars, he is able to bring a game that can connect the stars. He doesn’t need a lot of the ball, he doesn’t need actions to be played for him to be effective on the pitch.”

This is the Veselý we want – he can do it with fans too. And his hard foul? OK!

Serbians are hot-headed, sometimes they can argue in the team. Is it a trap?
“Yeah, but they’re not like the Croats. Croats always have great players, but since their great generation ended, they haven’t played anything because they fall apart before they can win anything. Serbians also have temperament, but I feel more national pride in them: We are Serbia, we are a basketball powerhouse, we are favorites always and everywhere. This is what I admire about them.”

In addition to the injured Bogdan Bogdanović, the 35-year-old star quarterback Miloš Teodošič is also missing from the nomination. Surprise?
“They will miss Bogdanovic, I’m a big fan of his. And Teodošič? When I read that coach Pešič didn’t take him, I picked up the phone and wrote to Nen (Ginzurg): Thank you for being so kind and nice to me at thirty-five. I was surprised, but Pešič is peculiar. I don’t think many other coaches would allow it. Teodošič is still a player who can bring something to the team. But the coach saw it differently and had the courage to take this step.”

What do you think makes the seventy-three-year-old coach Svetislav Pešič so unique?
“In the approach to the players and the fact that he has been playing basketball for a long time and I feel that it is still the same. Modern coaching is already somewhere else. Within the framework of the Serbian nation and their mentality, success can and will be celebrated, but I see it as more of a coach who is past his best. I would say they have better coaches.’

What to expect from Serbian fans?
“It depends on how many arrive. They are wild, I have experienced them at the international level and during my time in Ljubljana, where we played in the Adriatic League. When Partizan Belgrade played in Pionir (the legendary hall), they were one of the most authentic spectators for me. It included that when it came out of the half-time break, the hall was smoky because everyone had lit themselves on fire inside. But I don’t think the Serbs will arrive in such numbers as to drown out our crowds.’

The article is in Czech

Tags: EuroBasket Serbia Welsch giant Czechs chasing Admiration

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