From PA International, Belgrade
Serbia & Montenegro lost three of their five games on last week’s tour of Spain but Miodrag Veskovic is not a worried coach. He’s still supremely confident ahead of the European Championships.
Serbia & Montenegro are a basketball power in the men’s game and that self belief seems to have spread to the women, too.
In Caceres, the `blue ladies` lost to world giants Brazil and fellow European Championship side Ukraine, but Veskovic’s women were too good for hosts Spain, who are also playing in the championships in Greece later this month.
Immediately after in Guadalajara, Serbia & Montenegro beat Turkey but lost to Spain.
Against the Turks, Veskovic’s troops could hardly have played better.
His starting five stormed out to a 31-14 lead in the first quarter on the strength of Ivana Matovic’s 13 points and five assists and Gordana Grubin’s 11 points.
Veskovic then let his reserves get in on the act and they they cruised to a 78-57 triumph. “We started very well, and after the first quarter, it was all much easier than we thought it would be,” said Veskovic.
“After good, but pretty much bad moments in the games in Caceres, we finally discovered how to play basketball the way we like to. In the second half, I've tried some players who didn't play much in previous games, and I must say that I'm completely satisfied with their performances.”
The second game of the Guadalajara Tournament was a more tempestuous affair against Spain, who won 60-57.
Veskovic felt that his side were unreasonably on the wrong end of some refereeing decisions in that game.
Grubin scored 17 in the game while Slobodanka Tuvic of the Phoenix Mercury added 11 with nine rebounds.
“It was a strange game,” said Veskovic.
“Our rivals wanted to avenge the defeat in our first clash in Caceres, but they achieved it mostly because our mistakes.
“I don't want to comment on referees, as I never have, but this time, in a friendly - they decided to foul out our NBA players, Grubin and Tuvic, in the last 10 minutes of the match.
“Never mind, it’s not important now when it is all over. What’s important is that I saw plenty of good moves and plays from my team, even though we lost.
“Now, we'll work on some mistakes we've made in this two tournaments, and to try to move on with the good form we have discovered.”
Veskovic’s team are back in Belgrade where they will remain until departing for Greece.