Serbia unveil strong 12-man roster for EuroBasket

Serbia head coach Sasha Djordjevic has announced his final roster for EuroBasket 2015 which includes seven members of the team that conquered silver in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup.

Milos Teodosic, the star point guard who was voted on the World Cup All-Star Five Presented by Tissot and forward Nemanja Bjelica, the MVP of the past Euroleague season, headline a team which Djordjevic has deemed strong enough to aspire to reach the EuroBasket final.

The 23-year-old Bogdan Bogdanovic has also been included in the squad despite some doubts as to whether the back pains he has been suffering of late will allow him to play in the first couple of games in Berlin.

Fellow wingers Nikola Kalinic and Marko Simonovic, playmaker Stefan Markovic and big man Miroslav Raduljica are the other World Cup silver medallists on the 2015 Serbia squad.

Combo guard Nemanja Nedovic, who was forced to drop out of preparations last summer due to injury and missed out on the big tournament in Spain, returns to the team ready to pick up where he left off, following his excellent senior national team debut at EuroBasket 2013.

Zoran Erceg, the veteran power forward with the silk-soft touch, returns to the national team and is poised to step out in Berlin in what will be his first EuroBasket tournament since 2007.

Dragan Milosavljevic, at the age of 26, finally gets his chance to participate in a major tournament after getting close to making the final cut on three previous occasions.

Meanwhile 25-year-old Ognjen Kuzmic, who has an NBA champion’s ring in his possession as he was a member of the Golden State Warriors roster during the last two seasons, together with the talented Nikola Milutinov, are coach Djordjevic’s choices at the center position, behind Raduljica.

By opting to hand Kuzmic and Milutinov their debut with the national team, the Serbian coach had to cut Vladimir Stimac, a member of the 2014 silver medallists.

The other player who, alongside Stimac, learned on Tuesday that he will not board the plane to Berlin was young small forward Nemanja Dangubic.

“It’s been a very difficult decision, certainly one of the hardest,” Djordjevic admitted.

“Nemanja Dangubic and Vladimir Stimac did fantastically well since the very first day of training camp.

“I really have decided this based on small details.

“They have certainly proven that they are part of this team and that we count on them in the future.

“I will repeat for the umpteenth time I am sorry that not everyone can play at EuroBasket, only 12 players can get the chance.”

Stimac encapsulated the general feeling and big expectations in Serbia when he took to social network twitter on Tuesday night to express his support to the national team rather than complain about not making the cut.

“I am sorry that I will not win the gold medal, because this team will come back home as champions,” the experienced center posted.

“I wish them all health and the best of luck.”

Serbia’s EuroBasket 2015 Group B campaign gets under way on Saturday when they take on Spain in an eagerly anticipated clash of European titans.

Djordjevic’s men will then take on hosts Germany, Iceland, Turkey and finally Italy in the race to secure a top-four finish in Berlin and punch their ticket to Lille.

Serbia’s EuroBasket 2015 final roster: Nemanja Bjelica, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Zoran Erceg, Nikola Kalinic, Ognjen Kuzmic, Stefan Markovic, Dragan Milosavljevic, Nikola Milutinov, Nemanja Nedovic, Miroslav Raduljica, Marko Simonovic, Milos Teodosic

FIBA