The 2014 FIBA World Cup of Basketball warm-up games continued apace at the weekend. Serbia, Argentina, Turkey, and Puerto Rico all played in the Belgrade Trophy. We asked Alex Krstanovic, chief editor of Sportska Centrala, for his thoughts on the four teams involved.
BallinEurope:Serbia were hosting, how did they look over the two days?
Alex Krstanovic: Serbia looked quite good, but it was obvious we lack a real playmaker (such as Teodosic) and another good shooter such as Nedovic. My personal question is whether the Serbian team has peaked a bit too early in its physical form. It was obvious in today’s game that the players held the rhythm for all of 40 minutes, which is usually not the case in preparation games and 2 weeks before the tournament even starts.
BiE: Did any players surprise you?
AK: Katic did surprise me again. He was not a really obvious choice for the first team, but he did play quite good. Considering the condition of Nenad Krstic, we might really need Katic, at least as a solid backup center.
BiE: Of the teams involved, who looks like they still have work to do before Spain?
AK: Argentina. I saw both their games against Serbia last night and Puerto Rico tonight. They are far from a solid side. Yes, Manu and Delfino are not here and they travelled a lot prior to coming to Belgrade, yet they don’t look like they have a proper game plan. They really seem like a team that would need another month to get its act together.
BiE: Any other thoughts on the two days?
AK: Turkey is much stronger than I expected, and could have won against Serbia if there were not some dubious calls by the local refs towards the end. Ataman also mentioned this at the press conf after the game, saying that FIBA should look up to FIFA and introduce international referees also for preparation games, in order to increase their seriousness and avoid problems such as tonight. He said the same thing happens if Turkey plays at home, or plays in Spain, or anywhere else – during preparation games local refs always favour local teams. I tend to agree with him, but the question of course is who would pay for refs and their travel, expenses and accommodation.
The number of spectators was not that great. Yes, it sounds good when you say 12.000 fans, but the Arena holds more than 20.000 ,so it was basically half-empty. One of the problems is that summer holidays are still in full swing (schools here start on Sept 1), but people do not see our national team playing live every day. I expect more people for the New Zealand game next weekend, which will also be the last before travelling to Spain.
Organisation was okay, nothing spectacular, but everything worked, press conferences were on time and quite informative, everyone was nice. Games were actually quite good, except for Argentina as said above. Puerto Rico has somehow always been a difficult opponent for Serbia and I’m happy we didn’t have to play them.