Serbia & Montenegro Humbled By Greeks

11 August 2003

Serbia & Montenegro's preparations for the European Championships took a blow when the side suffered a damaging defeat against Greece in a friendly tournament.

Having comfortably beaten Australia (89-68) and Bulgaria (114-82), the Blues faced a stiffer test against the tournament hosts and were comprehensively beaten 81-61.

The performance drew harsh criticism from team coach Dusko Vujosevic, who said: "The Greeks were a tough opponent, too strong for us at this moment.

"We can learn a lot about our weakness from this match, mostly because we faced a strong squad who played defence on the edge of fouls.

"Even if the referees made quite a lot of mistakes, we can't speak about them as we lost by 20 points.

"Now, we must turn to ourselves, to be concentrated and analyse and learn from mistakes. Simply, our team wasn't brave in this final game of tournament, we weren't committed and disciplined."

The first quarter was characterised by nervous play by both sides, with the frenetic 3,500-strong crowd in the Alexandrio hall only adding to the tension.

And Serbia & Montenegro's task became even steeper when star player Milan Gurovic was forced off with an elbow injury. The Greeks dictated the tempo of the game with long-range shots and they took a 19-16 lead into the second quarter.

The hosts consolidated their advantage to go in 36-29 ahead at half time, with the Serbo-Montenegrins possessing an unenviable field-goal percentage of just 25%.

The third quarter was a disaster for Dusko Vujosevic's squad. First playmaker Marko Jaric was taken off with a foot injury, and then the Greeks forged a huge lead of 63-40. And despite rallying briefly in the final quarter coach the game was beyond the Blues, the final score 81-61.
Gurovic, like his coach, was unhappy with the performance and said: "We've played very badly in this game and didn't perform as we had to.

"On the one side of field there were great Greeks and, I must say this, their referees, and on the other we've played like never before and even missed 15 free-throws.

"This match shown us what we still must do when practising defence, and I'm sure that we will finish tournament in Istanbul, later this month, with better result."

Coach Vujosevic and most of the side returned to Belgrade, where they will be joined a day later by Pedja Stojakovic who stayed in Greece, waiting for the injured Jaric.

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