| 61 With three silvers won at the last European and World championships, as well as the Olympic Games, our basketball players have restored our faith that we belong on the world throne. And while the nation lets its imagination run wild, Aleksandar ‘Sale’ Đorđević’s select few don’t want to promise too much. They are ready, but there is no euphoria. ‘Sale Nacionale’ is showing them how to become a champion... Public transport. Two guys aged around 25. -“I can’twait for theWorldCup to begin,”says one. –“Ooh, me too! Only for us to beat the Americans. With Jokić we can certainly do that.” Kalemegdan Fortress, one of many benches.Twoelderlygentlemenarechatting. - “I think this year we have the best chance of winning gold. Do you remember Indianapolis in 2002? Thenwemanaged to beat thedream-teaminthemiddleofAmerica,”says one gent. His friend responds: “I’ve seen that most of the Americans have withdrawn. Butthey’llneverhavewhatwehave–spite, heart,andSaleĐorđević.Heknowshowto beatthebest.Theydon’tgetkilledbyAmericanswiththree-pointersinthelastsecond.” Wherever you turn during this long, hot summer, peopleare talkingabout the FIBAWorldCup.Children,men,women,old, young, thosewhofollowsportsandthose whooftendon’t, theyallhaveonlyonepicture in their heads andone sentence they dreamofhearing–Serbia isthechampion of theworld, echoingto thesoundsof the nationalanthem,GodofJustice.Andeveryonehopes that this dreamwill be realised this15th September.But selectorandhead coachAleksandarĐorđevićdoesn’tpermit suchpropheticdreams;heknowsthat fantasising doesn’t win trophies. “From the players I seek work, order and discipline. They mustn’t take ight, mustn’trelax.I’mseekingforthemtobemotivatedateverymomentandtobefocused on the court,”says head coach Đorđević. And if they relax? “One badly played game will bring them back down to earth. Talking about Americansisbanned.You[themedia]keep asking about that, but... We’re not thinking about them.We’re considering everyone but the Americans. I’m thinking, for instance, about theGermanswhobeat us twiceinqualifying, andaboutGreece,Russia... And I won’t evenmention the kindof qualityof thesquadscomingfromFrance, Argentina, Brazil, Spain etc.” And then a point followed, because Đorđević always scores points at the last second. “We’ll leavetheAmericanstoplaytheir own basketball, and we’ll play ours. So if wemeet, may God help them.” Nemanja Bjelica is also aware that the team must be realistic initsexpectationsand mustn’t ‘waver’ too much. He is the maestro of the Serbian team, in the way Dejan Bodirogausedtobe. He’sde nitely Sale’smanfor specialmissions. “We shouldn’t back away fromthefact thatwe’reamong the favourites, butwemust be realistic. There was euphoria over the withdrawal of Americans,butthey’restrongregardless of the squad they come with.However,noonecantakeawayfrom us that thing of ours that we have.” Inresponsetothefollow-upquestion ofwhat that thingof ours is, Bjelica smiles. “A wonderful atmosphere and team spirit. I am glad that this positive atmospherehas been created, andwemust only think about ourselves andhow tobe as good as possible.” If Bjelica is Sale’s man for special missions, then Miloš Teodosić is the team’s greatest creative asset. He’s a man who’s able to “invent” an assistance or a score. SERBIA’S WC SCHEDULE A total of 92 matches will be played during the planet’s biggest basketball competition, and our national team will have the honour of opening the FIBAWorld Cup with a match against Angola on 31st August, from 9.30am Serbian time. The second match of coach Aleksandar Đorđević’s selected squad will be played on 2nd September at 1.30pm, against the Philippines, while the third match of Serbia’s Eagles will be played on 4th September, also at 1.30pm Serbian time, when they take on Italy. The Serbia national teamwill play its Group Dmatches in the city of Foshan. A place in the second round of the competition - to be played from 6th to 9th September - will be secured by the top two teams in each of the eight groups, with Serbia’s group paired against Group C, which includes Spain, Puerto Rico, Iran and Tunisia. Cela nacija reprezentacija The whole nation behind the national team RASPORED SRBIJE NA SP Na najvećem planetarnom takmičenju biće odigrano ukupno 92 meča, a naša reprezentacija imaće čast da otvori Mundobasket utakmicom sa Angolom 31. avgusta u 9.30 h po srpskom vremenu. Drugi meč izabranici selektora Aleksandra Đorđevića igraju 2. septembra od 13.30 h protiv Filipina, dok će treći meč u grupi imati 4. septembra, takođe od 13.30 h, a rival će im biti Italija. Reprezentacija Srbije će utakmice Svetskog prvenstva u okviru grupe D igrati u Fošanu. Plasman u drugu rundu takmičenja, koja će se igrati od 6. do 9. septembra, izboriće po dve najbolje selekcije iz svake od osam grupa, a Srbija će se ukrstiti sa grupom C, u kojoj su Španija, Portoriko, Iran i Tunis.