“We are ready” Micic, Nedovic, Pesi, Buscaglia & De Jong look ahead to David & Goliath matchup

Sep 1, 2022 | Holyland Hoops

While Israel will be taking on Finland to kick off the Eurobasket group stage in Prague, there will be two other games at the O2 Arena as the host Czech Republic welcomes Poland and powerhouse Serbia plays Holland in the nightcap.

Serbia’s national team has a arguably the biggest star in the European Championships, Nikola Jokic who is a two-time winner of the NBA’s MVP award. However, the Denver Nuggets center isn’t the only star on a squad that is full of them including Vasilije Micic and Nemanja Nedovic both whom spoke to The Sports Rabbi ahead of their forts Eurobasket game against a feisty Netherlands squad.

Serbia star Vasilije Micic:
“We are ready and mentally we are about to be ready as it’s been a pretty long time since we had the last serious competition. These last two games in World Cup qualification were pretty important for us to adjust ourselves mentally and physically as well. From that point of view we are ready for the first game.”

Pressure between Serbia and EFES:
“The pressure is always. Pressure isn’t something that we aren’t familiar with we all play in big teams and big competitions the pressure is more mental. If you have an approach to play each game different and for itself then we should not be worried. We know that we are a basketball country and that all the people in Serbia are very enthusiastic now but that’s their part. Our part is to stay focussed on each second on the floor.”

About Deni:
“I really respect him and he is developing. He is a very hard worker that is hard to find today in the younger generation as they all try to succeed very early but he is very humble and very dedicated to basketball. Nothing surprises me with his success. He’s the leader of the team and Israel is a great, great positive development in their youth categories and producing very good players over the past few years. This makes me happy because I really respect every player.”

Nikola Jokic
“I honestly can’t describe it. It’s not that I want to make an additional compliment to him but he is aware of that but he is really good. I think his approach to every game and his idea to enjoy every game is also very unique and you can see all these big names like Luka, him and Giannis they all really enjoy and that’s the main thing for them beside the pair professionalism and they are tough.”

Medalists?
“I don’t know, there are many good teams.”

Nemanja Nedovic – Photo Credit: Euroleague.net


Nemanja Nedovic:
“Very excited after six years without being with the national team it’s a big competition and one of the strongest in the last 10-15 years and I’m looking forward to everything.”

The other’s ability to surprise:
“We try not to pay attention to that too much and we try to focus on our job. When everyone does their job the right way and respects the role they get from the coach we will be very hard to beat. We are trying to focus on us and go step by step, game by game.”

Getting Nikola Jokic into the swing of things:
“It’s very easy, trust me. He understands the game of basketball so good that I don’t know of you put him to play with four regular people form the street he will figure out a way to win. It’s easy for us and we try to help him as much as we can but he is our leader and the game will be around him.”

About the Holland clash:
“We expect a tough game as every first game is usually hard, we will try to set the tone from the beginning and not have problems later in the game split the minutes between all of the players. They are a serious team and have some great talent in every position and we have to be 100% serious tomorrow.”

Serbia head coach Svetislav Pesic:
“We will prepare for Netherlands especially tactically and showing respect for every opponent that is in the Eurobasket. We have to show motivation as Netherlands will be very motivated. They are very good in transition and play hard defense man to man and can change their tactics. We prepared very well because it’s very important to respect every opponent. Our goal is to see how responsible we will be and then go from game to game and work very hard. We need to use the game to compete and be ready to give our best.”

Maurizio Buscaglia – Photo Credit: BCL

Holland head coach Maurizio Buscaglia:
“We want to be a basketball country and we want to be the best version that we can after going on this trip for the last three years. It’s a really sweet ending of this journey and we are proud, but this will be a big challenge and we are taking a big step. We are ready to fight for this moment.”

How can Holland compete with Serbia:
“We are the underdog and the spirit we have to put on the floor has to be great and the Serbian team will push us to do that. The game is five in five but we have to compete at every moment, the 50/50 balls, the boxing out. The positive pressure is important and we want to move up our basketball.”

“This summer it was a different step we built a combination of veterans and younger players. Some players this is the second one, in 35 years, it’s a challenge and from one side it’s veterans and the second is bringing in younger people. We have players who are a perfect for this team, it’s really good that we are refreshing and the other side we are taking a step up. Worthy is always the captain and we work off of the floor to keep the group united and how the national team atmosphere you play differently with the national team, not just the tactically.”

Worthy De Jong – Photo Credit: FIBA


Captain Worthy De Jong
“It’s been a journey since we arrived in 2015. It’s a true pleasure to be here with these great teams. We have guys that are motivated those who were here in the past and others who have joined us.The game against Serbia is very anticipated for us as they have a great team and great players. We will have to bring up a big effort and we had our last friendly against Spain.”

The process for trying to grow Dutch basketball:
“If you look back to 2015 and coach joined these teams kept being added higher level teams and we gained respect, success shan’t always there we kept on growing as a team, success doesn’t determine how good we are as a team and that is what we have to keep bucking on, coach has Been working hard with the players and getting them better, we are at a place where we should be all the time. There is still work to be fine but he has given us a lot over the last few years and that we qualified for the Eurobasket.”

Working with the next generation:
“I want them to enjoy this ride and it doesn’t come around every year. Enjoy it and ask questions and prepare yourself the best way you can. Keep working on your skills but the most important thing is to continue”

Underdogs:
“Against these big teams we will be the underdog and our tactics will never be enough, we have to hit the floor with a dog mentality. We will have to get down and dirty. From 2015 until now it’s the underdog situation and it shows that we have so much room to grow. Not just here but also the World Cup level. Keep fighting and working hard.”

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