U20 European Championship Vital For Young Serbians

01.07.2009

Serbia have been warming up for their title defense at the U20 European Championship for Men in Rhodes by competing at the Mediterranean Games in Italy.

According to their head coach, Slobodan Klipa, the competition in Pescara, Italy, and this years' European Championship in Greece are important tournaments for players attempting to make the team's Olympic team in 2012 should Serbia qualify.

"The Expert Council of our Basketball Association made the decision a long time ago that for the Mediterranean Games, our under-20s should take part since the goal is that some or many of these youngsters will be candidates for our senior team that will hopefully participate at the 2012 Olympics," Klipa said.

"This year our main goal is of course the European Championship,"

"But, we want to represent our country in the best possible way wherever and whenever we participate.

"At the Mediterranean Games, we have one of the youngest teams since most of the other countries have sent their senior 'B' teams, which has given our youngsters the opportunity to gain more experience.

"They're having tough games ahead of the U20 European Championship in Rhodes so the games in Pescara allows them to raise their quality, both individually and as team."

Klipa had wanted to take more than 12 players to Pescara but wasn't allowed.

"Those are rules for the Mediterranean Games, despite the fact that we would like to have more players," Klipa said.

"So, guys like Lukovic, Gagic, Cvetkovic, Zivanovic and Dimic are in Serbia continuing with their work, and maybe someone from that group will be among the members of our squad for the European Championship. There, we'll really need our best team, since already in preliminary round, against Croatia, Ukraine and Germany, we have to prove what we are made of."

The Serbia squad at the Mediterranean Games includes Filip Covic, Nemanja Nedovic, Aleksandar Mitrovic, Stefan Stojacic, Dragan Milosavljevic, Branko Lazic, Vladimir Lucic, Bojan Subotic, Nikola Markovic, Stefan Bircevic, Dusko Bunic and Nikola Markovic.

After falling 91-70 in their opener to Greece, Serbia defeated Morocco 77-66 but then suffered a 71-69 setback to Croatia.

Serbia take on Italy in the Quarter-Finals of the Mediterranean Games on Wednesday night.


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