Serbia took down France in the FIBA World Cup on Friday, in what was one of the tournament’s most entertaining and well-played contests.
Their reward for that accomplishment, of course, is a date with Team USA in the gold medal game on Sunday.
While the Americans are going to be heavily favored, Serbia has both veterans and NBA-level talent on its roster. And that combination means that the team will have a certain level of confidence, despite what appears to be a mismatch.
They are much older than the Americans. They have a player who once played for the Nets in East Rutherford, N.J. (Krstic). They have a point guard, Milos Teodosic, who is a lock for First Team All-Tournament (he scored 24 points on 9-for-12 shooting against France).
Most importantly, they have nothing to lose.
And when all the pressure is on the other team, as it will be for the United States on Sunday, it can be an enormous equalizer. Just ask Spain.
“We’re not going to be scared, for sure,” Krstic said. “Some players never get this chance — the chance to do something great in our lives.”
You would expect nothing less, and when teams play cohesively, we’ve seen them hold their own with Team USA for stretches.
The reality here, however, is that once single elimination play began, Team USA has won those three games by an average of more than 31 points.
We’ll see if Serbia can keep it close, and if so, for how long. But it’s clear that they won’t be intimidated ahead of time by the daunting task at hand.