Serbia Rumors

Nuggets all-star center Nikola Jokic may have been exposed to someone who tested positive for coronavirus during a recent visit to his native Serbia. Pictures show Jokic in close proximity to Nikola Jankovic, a center for KK Partizan, during last Thursday’s exhibition game honoring coach Dejan Milojevic in Belgrade. On Monday, Jankovic’s professional team announced he had tested positive for the virus. A picture in the following tweet shows Jankovic “Janker” standing to Jokic’s right.
“I feel like they need our help right now,” Bogdanovic told The Athletic. “It doesn’t matter where you donate, where you’re trying to help, I feel like the whole world needs some kind help. So it’s good to be there (to help), especially in this tough time. I’m just following the example of others I saw and I hope I will be an example for someone else.” According to the U.S. Embassy in Serbia, there are 2,200 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 58 deaths as of Monday. Commercial flights in and out of Serbia have been suspended indefinitely.
Storyline: Coronavirus
Bogdanovic plans to continue to monitor the happenings around the world and how he might be able to help. He also believes players can begin to look at their lives from a bigger perspective and what they might want to pursue after basketball. “I feel like everyone should see what is going on and what it might be like when you’re retired,” Bogdanovic said. “That’s what you can learn from this situation, and follow the rules that the government is giving us, the World Health Organization as well, for this pandemic to go away as quickly as it can.”
Serbia coach Igor Kokoskov talked about Denver Nuggets coach Mike Malone potentially joining the national team’s staff in the future. Kokoskov said that it was Malone who offered to become a part of the team during a congratulatory phone call after he was named the new head coach of the “Orlovi.” “What I can say is that from our side, we did everything to be professional and transparent,” Kokoskov said in the press conference ahead of the EuroBasket Qualifiers games of Serbia vs. Finland and Georgia. “When that idea came up, we were there to welcome him. After my appointment, I got a call with his [Malone’s] congratulations and his proposal to join us. That was one very nice [form of] congratulations to me. If not recognition.”
Malone denied that any official agreement is in place. He later mentioned that there are ongoing conversations and he’s “definitely” interested in becoming a part of the team. “The desire to cooperate still exits,” Kokoskov said. “He’s a prominent NBA coach. If he’s willing to be here, that’s fine. The team won’t be based on Igor or Mike Malone but on the players and, most importantly, on them being here.”
On Christmas Eve, the Basketball Federation of Serbia announced the awards for the best male and the best female player of 2019 with Bogdan Bogdanovic and Sonja Petrovic winning top honors. The federation entrusted the voting process to sports journalists of all reputable Serbian media, which cover basketball and federation activities. According to the jury’s choice, which consisted of sports editorial offices of all major newspapers, television and radio stations, news agencies, and online portals, Bogdanovic got 22 votes and Petrovic 29.
At a time in which the NBA has been embroiled in a hefty global political controversy that began with a tweet from Rockets general manager Daryl Morey in support of protestors against Chinese influence in Hong Kong—a political quarrel that has sapped the joy from the game for the past week—Divac’s lesson from watching the Yugoslavian national team fall apart resonates. “Unfortunately, we were just the team that had to be punished,” Divac said. “I always fight for sports to be neutral. It doesn’t matter, you know. But that’s life. You remember, Olympics 1984, as much as we can fight, those people were making the decisions. Unfortunately, a lot of them are bad decisions. Otherwise we would all feel and live in a peaceful world and have fun. Right?”
Serbia forward Nemanja Bjelica made his self-criticism while praising his team’s camaraderie following the eliminating loss to Argentina in the World Cup quarterfinals. “We weren’t ready for this game. Especially mentally. Especially myself. I take complete responsibility for it. I know we are a team but as one of the leaders… I must say I played like s–t,” Bjelica said in the post-game presser.
Storyline: World Cup
Joel Rush: After not getting a foul call on a Marc Gasol and Juancho Hernangomez trap, Nikola Jokic yells at the ref, and gets ejected from the game. #FIBAWC #SerbiaSpain

The Philippines provided no serious challenge to red-hot Serbia. Sasha Djordjevic’s side strolled to the 126-67 win in 2019 FIBA World Cup Group D action at Foshan on Monday to secure a spot in the second round. Nemanja Bjelica saw action after missing the first game and made 7/7 from the field for 20 points. Bogdan Bogdanovic put up 17 points to include himself among seven players scoring in double digits. Nikola Jokic tallied 11 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists in just 18:45.
Storyline: World Cup
Despite trailing at halftime (32-23), Serbia turned the tables in the second half and logged a 61-56 win over France at the AusTiger Tournament. With this win, Serbia stayed the only undefeated national team in preparations for the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China as they won all ten of their games. Miroslav Raduljica led the way with 13 points followed by Nikola Jokic’s ten while Vasilije Micic added nine points. Bogdan Bogdanovic, Nemanja Bjelica and Vladimir Lucic didn’t play for Serbia.
Serbia is headed to China to play its last few preparation games ahead of FIBA World Cup without Milos Teodosic, who is still recovering from his injury. While the Serbian NT waited on Teodosic, Sasha Djordjevic now doesn’t seem too optimistic that the former Clippers guard can join the national selection. “Things don’t look that good now. The rupture still exists, which will prevent him from traveling with us. Captain Teodosic 99% won’t be with us at the World Cup”, told Djordjevic per b92.net, confirming the initial Eurohoops report on the matter.
One topic Popovich did steer clear of was a recent comment made by Serbian national team coach Aleksandar “Sasha” Djordjevic about potentially playing against U.S. Djordjevic said that if the Americans and Serbians meet in next month’s World Cup, “Let’s let them play their basketball and we will play ours and if we meet, may God help them” according to Eurohoops.net and Mozzart Sport. “You’ll have to ask Sasha,” Popovich said. “I don’t really pay attention too much. I’ve been doing this too long. But he’s a hell of a coach. He’s a competitor, and he’s been a hero in Europe as a player. He was fantastic, and they have a program that goes way back with a lot of success.