There’ll be no Milos Teodosic at EuroBasket, it’s sad, surprising, but also somewhat natural, writes Emmet Ryan
The effective international retirement of Milos Teodosic certainly came sooner than expected. Serbia’s shallowest position is arguably point guard and Teodosic has been the unquestioned leader at this spot for a long time. That Svetislav Pesic opted to dispense with him came as a shock to most basketball fans when the next broke a few days ago.
Teodosic is an utter wonder to watch. His defensive contribution is, put politely, forgettable but the net benefit from what he does with the ball in hand more than compensates for it even at 35 years of age.
The argument over best point guard in Europe is a divisive one but there is no argument over who is most thrilling. Teodosic presented a creative force with his permanent just out of bed look that dropped jaws wherever he played and no matter the import* of the contest. His style was one also well suited to maintain efficacy through his later years on the court, relying less on speed of body than thought.
*Ok, the Euroleague third place game is an exception but come on.
Yet, it’s not entirely a tragedy. On a purely greedy level, I am awfully disappointed that I won’t get to see Teodosic on the court in the knockout rounds in Berlin or tuning in to Serbia games in Prague during breaks from my coverage in Milano. Lots of neutrals and, more importantly, Serbia fans feel that same lust for Milos magic if not more but the outfit that remains promises to produce a new flavour to try.
With Teodosic gone, the odds are Vasilije Micic will be the primary ball handler. He’s exciting in his own right but unquestionably a rather different player to Teodosic. Vladimir Lucic has shown just how good a point-forward style player he can be over the last couple of seasons, likewise showing extraordinary leadership for his Bayern Munich side, and it’s not like Nikola Jokic can’t hold and pass the ball…I mean seriously.
Jokic however proves the most interesting part of what is to come, His ability as a ball moving man in the paint probably made Pesic feel more comfortable about cutting Teodosic and redesigning the point of attack. Yet in the glimpses we’ve had over the years of Teodosic and Jokic on the floor together, their chemistry is undeniable. Granted, that’s not exactly a shock. Teodosic’s ability to understand how to get the most out of bigs he worked with was somehow both well recognised and under rated at the same time.
On paper, this Serbia side is better than the one that made the final in 2017. That side overachieved somewhat under the leadership of Bogdan Bogdanovic, who won’t be at this event, but it showed that even a weakened Serbia side is still the equivalent of a dream team for most competing nations.
There’s enough talent for this Serbia side to win it all yet also enough questions for it to go out to an unfancied side under the right circumstances. At present, Serbia are tournament favourites at 3/1 because, again, there’s some serious talent there but it’s got just enough questions for us all to wonder exactly how it will go about its business.
There will be some tears shed if Serbia wins it all without Milos. His service to the national side included silver medals at EuroBasket (2009), the World Cup (2014), and the Olympics (2016), but he never tasted gold in a senior jersey. That said, the stature of his contribution is measured in more than medals and one imagines the tears on Teodosic’s face will be ones of joy should he see his teammates lift the trophy in a little over a month.