Serbia, the hosts of this year’s Olympic qualifications are on a 5 game winning streak, if we count the frendlies they played. The Serbian squad, under guidance of Aleksandar Đorđević, were able to beat the following teams: France (81:66) and (94:88) 4 days later, Greece (91:76), Puerto Rico (87:81) and Angola (60:83). Despite their winning run, Serbia did not impress us in the group stage, but still played good enough to advance to the next stage of the qualifications. The problem I saw is that, they were not able to keep the advantage of points they accumulated. That was clearly seen in matches against Puerto Rico and Angola. In the first example, Serbia were leading by 30 points at one point, but still only managed to win by 6 at the end. Against Angola, we could saw similar result. Nevertheless, Raduljica, Jokic and Bogdanovic are improving with each game and we can expect some good performances from them in the upcoming match.
Serbia are now facing Czech Republic, 2nd placed team in Group 2. Czech are well aware, they are going into this match as a underdogs, as Serbia has not yet shown their real potential in the group stage. Taking a look at previous H2H games these two teams faced each other in last season’s Eurobasket quarter-finals where Serbia came out on top (89:75).
Đorđević knows, they must not underestimate the opponents, as they have two great NBA players in their roster, Satoransky and Vesely. These two have been playing together for a long time now and they might cause some problems for the hosts, although Vesely seems to not be in his best form at the moment.
Czech Republic won a key match on Wednesday against Japan (87:71), which secured them a spot in the semi-finals. In that game Japan started the match really poorly, being behind by 18 in the 1st half already. Despite their best efforts, lowering the margin by the end of the 1st half and getting to -10 in the middle of the 3rd quarter, Czech kicked back, thus crushing the hopes of the Asian team. Czech star player Satoransky ended that game with 11 points and 7 assists, whereas Vesely had not delivered once again, scoring only 8 points in 30 minutes he played. If he does not improve his game, Czech Republic might have some problems standing up against the Serbs.
In the end I would like to state something I mentioned before, Serbia has a lot more in store and if we will ever see their full potential, it will be today, as this is a very important match for them.
Prediction: Serbia -13.5
Odds: 1.85 Pinnacle