|12 August 2013|
|Nemanja Nedovic led the way for Serbia in their crushing victory over Slovenia, scoring 20 points|
Italy, Greece and Serbia were all competing in friendly tournaments without key players at the weekend, but overcame absences admirably and gave their fans reasons to smile, 24 days before EuroBasket 2013 tips off.
The Azzurri defeated Poland 76-65 on Saturday in the Trentino Cup behind 17 points from Alessandro Gentile and 12 from Pietro Aradori, despite the fact they had to play without the sidelined-through-illness Andrea Bargnani, and Luigi Datome and Angelo Gigli who were both being rested.
Italy had previously prevailed over both Israel and Georgia and claimed first place in the tournament, to the delight of their head coach Simone Pianigiani, who liked what he saw from his players.
"Today [Saturday] we also did things well and despite the absences we sacrificed for the team and shared around points and responsibility among everyone.
"The players have wanted to show a positive face by helping each other.
"This, at the moment, is not enough to compete against the best teams in Europe, but if we continue to work in this way and luck grants us a break from injuries, we could arrive to the point where we can take big wins."
Serbia also had plenty of reasons to feel satisfied with themselves, as they inflicted a first loss in the run-up to EuroBasket on Slovenia, 91-66, and conquered the Belgrade Trophy.
Young point guard Nemanja Nedović led all scorers with 20 points and captain Nenad Krstic added 16, to momentarily make the 14,000-strong crowd in Belgrade's Kombank Arena forget that their national team was playing without injured guards Milos Teodosic and Vasilije Micić.
"We can draw plenty of lessons from this game, our team responded to our fans, and we defeated Slovenia by 25 points," said Serbia head coach Dusan Ivkovic.
"We continue to work hard, we have shown a good game in transition and seen excellent cooperation at the center position between Krstic and [Rasko] Katic.
"Slovenia are a quality team, one of the favourites at EuroBasket, and they will be playing at home."
|Greek Head coach Andrea Trinchieri is remaining wary of France, despite recording a satisfying win over the defending EuroBasket silver medallists on the weekend|
Serbia are expecting Micic to make his return to action in Monday's warm-up game against Russia, although Ivkovic specified he will stay on the floor for only a few minutes, at best.
Similarly, Greece expect Vasilis Spanoulis and Kostas Kaimakoglou to re-join training camp soon, but the Hellenic team had to play without them, as well as injured center Ioannis Bourousis, in the Strasbourg friendly tournament at the weekend.
It didn't seem like the Greeks minded though, as they dominated France 79-67 on Sunday to win the tournament, on the back of 18 points from Loukas Mavrokefalidis and 10 points from each of Kostas Papanikolaou, Antonis Fotsis and Kostas Sloukas.
"This is not the true potential of France, so we should not take this result as an omen of anything," said Greece head coach Andrea Trinchieri.
"However, we need to point out the mentality of the team, these guys have been working really hard and they proved it here, this is the most important thing for me."
Greece had previously crashed Germany 80-52 on Saturday and edged out Croatia 87-85 on Friday, to win the warm-up event.
Mavrokefalidis, who was excellent for Greece in Strasbourg and is poised to make his senior national team debut in Slovenia, gave what perhaps can be a good explanation of why his team can perform well despite star absences.
"We might be talented offensively, but this is what most of our opponents at the EuroBasket will also be like," he said.
"So I think that our EuroBasket campaign will be determined by our defence as a team, and every player on the team has the will to contribute to that."