Darko will be there. So will MVP Teodosic, prospective draft pick Novica Velickovic, longtime international Nenad Krstic and BallinEurope fave Uros Tripkovic – we’re talking Team Serbia here, with these four are among the 22 players selected by head coach Dusan Ivkovic to comprise the team to compete in this summer’s 2010 FIBA World Championship.
The 22-man roster includes all twelve members of the stunning surprise of the Eurobasket 2009 tournament – Krstić, Tripkovic, 2009-10 Euroleague MVP Milos Teodosić, Miroslav Raduljica, Bojan Popović, Milenko Tepić, Ivan Paunić, Nemanja Bjelica, Stefan Marković, Kosta Perović, Novica Veličković, and Milan Mačvan – plus Dragan Milosavljevic, Marko Keselj, Mladen Jeremic, Dusko Savanovic, Zoran Erceg, Ivan Radenovic, Luka Bogdanovic, Boban Marjanovic, Aleksandar Rasic and good old Darko Milicic.
The virtually unheralded Serbia was one of the revelations of Eurobasket 2009: One of the tournament’s youngest teams (and one of its most unheralded) opened the show by upsetting mighty Team Spain on day one, going on to shock opponent after opponent into the finals, where they succumbed to Team Spain on the second go-round.
The expanded roster will begin practices on June 28 and will be trimmed to 16 by July 5th. Team Serbia will be participating in an Instanbul-hosted tournament against fellow FIBA Worlds competitors Turkey and Iran in early July; in mid-August, they’ll be playing Russia, New Zealand and Slovenia in Slovenia’s Maribor Tournament; and directly therafter, Greece, Canada and Slovenia are on the schedule for the August 17-19 Acropolis Cup tournament in Athens.
Meanwhile, BiE awaits a trash-talking declarative statement from the would-be returning Timberwolf similar to the invective he spewed forth before the 2007 Eurobasket competition: “We’ll destroy them all – Spaniards, Greeks, Lithuanians, Russians, Frenchmen, Italians … All of them! They’re good, but we can demolish them all. Spain is not unbeatable. I like to play against Pau Gasol: He’s soft. If we win the gold medal in Spain, I’ll take my shirt off and then I will jump from the Parliament terrace. After that, I don’t need anything else in my life.”
For the record, Serbia finished at the bottom of the table in that tournament, ultimately getting eliminated in game three by mighty Israel. (Maybe Darko should’ve said Serbia would destroy them, too…)