What can be said about the Estonia-Serbia game that hasn’t been already? Once again Serbia gave up a halftime lead; once again the team was forced to try and dig out of a fourth-quarter hole; once again the lack of communication on offense was evident (Would you believe just five total assists?); and once again Milos Teodosic self-destructed in the fourth quarter…
To his credit, Good Milos still managed five points in the final 10 minutes, much due to his three fouls drawn. Unfortunately, the rest of his line in the stanza read all too familiarly: 1-of-5 shooting, one rebound (on a serendipitous board at the quarter’s beginning), zero assists, one turnover and two personal fouls.
And it all came together – or didn’t come together – in precisely the wrong game. Serbia now faces a do-or-die game against Israel on Tuesday. Win and they’re in. Lose and they’ll need Iceland to top Estonia (yeah, surrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrre) plus depending on other results. On the plus side, Serbia’s final opponents Israel have all but clinched the final game; FIBA Europe hilariously reports that “For Israel not to make it to Slovenia, they would need to lose their last game against Serbia in Belgrade on Tuesday by 87 points or more … [even] then, Israel could … still advance if Estonia do not win against Iceland in their clash.”
So go ahead and pencil in Serbia for Eurobasket 2013, but geez, you can’t exactly feel optimistic about their chances in the big tourney. Apparent from these qualifiers is the intriguing mix of old standards at peak (e.g. Russia, Spain) or just post-peak (e.g. France) plus exciting up-and-comers (e.g. Georgia, Ukraine) that FIBA is fixing to present in Slovenia. Where is the young talent on Team Serbia? Where is the evidence of future evolution, as we’re seeing from Germany, Czech Republic, even Italy in their triumphant return to respectability?
As for Teodosic, Zoran Slavnic’s criticism seems more and more spot-on … is a Team Serbia rebooted without Good Milos/Bad Milos truly unthinkable? How much more likely does this become with a first-round exit from Slovenia in 2013?