In an electrifying encounter that will be remembered for years to come, Serbia overcame Canada 95-86 in the FIBA World Cup 2023 semi-final. This victory not only booked their spot in the final but also marked Serbia’s emphatic return to the FIBA World Cup final after nearly a decade. For basketball fans, it was a masterclass performance from a team that had previously been absent from this stage of the competition for nine long years.
The stakes were high, and the atmosphere was tense, but Serbia’s determination and impeccable game strategy ensured they had the upper hand throughout the match. The win against Canada has now put Serbia in a favorable position, as they eagerly await their opponent, either Team USA or Germany, in the grand finale.
The maestro behind Serbia’s stunning victory was none other than the Atlanta Hawks guard, Bogdan Bogdanovic. Delivering a game-high of 23 points, which included an impressive 5/8 2PT, 3/4 3PT, and 4/5 FT, Bogdanovic was nothing short of spectacular. In addition to his scoring prowess, he contributed 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals in just 29 minutes of play. His performance was not only commendable for the match, but it also cemented his place in FIBA history. With 70 three-pointers now under his belt in the World Cup, Bogdanovic has set a new benchmark for the most 3-pointers made by a player in the competition over the past three decades.
But Bogdanovic wasn’t the only hero of the day for Serbia. Aleksa Avramovic, playing for Partizan, played a pivotal role, particularly in his defensive responsibilities against Canada’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Avramovic showcased immense energy and intensity, finishing the game with 10 points and a pair of steals. Another noteworthy contribution came from Nikola Milutinov, who posted a formidable double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Together, Bogdanovic and Milutinov combined to produce exactly 50% of Serbia’s points in the initial two quarters, a testament to their synergy and dominance on the court.
Serbia’s strategy was evident from the onset: establish a strong lead early on and maintain it. By the end of the first half, they managed an 11-4 run, gaining a comfortable 13-point lead over Canada at 52-39.
The Canadian side, despite their commendable efforts, seemed to be struggling, especially their star player, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Serbia’s tight defense on Alexander was evident as he managed only 5 points in the first half, which is significantly below his World Cup average of 10.2 points. Furthermore, he found himself in foul trouble early on, further complicating Canada’s game plan.
Despite facing a daunting 13-point deficit, Canada started the third quarter with renewed vigor, initiating an 11-5 spurt. However, Serbia’s resilience and unwavering focus meant that they always held the game’s reins. To make matters worse for Canada, both Dillon Brooks and Kelly Olynyk found themselves laden with fouls, forcing them to the bench at critical junctures of the game.
By the fourth quarter, Bogdanovic, also fondly known as ‘Bogi’, continued to dazzle and dominate. He scored 7 crucial points in this quarter, setting the stage for Serbia’s triumph over Team Canada.
In conclusion, Serbia’s victory over Canada was a culmination of strategic game play, impeccable individual performances, and unwavering team spirit. As they move on to the FIBA World Cup 2023 final, the basketball world watches with bated breath. Will this be Serbia’s year to reclaim the championship title after their nine-year hiatus? Only time will tell.