Preview: U19 World Cup 2019MrCrossover
U19 FIBA Wor;d Cup is around the corner. First of many FIBA Youth events this summer and probably the most interesting one. Tournament is starting 29th June and will be held in Crete, Greece. Serbia is coming on tournament as reigning U18 European champs and they will have chance to compete against countries from other continents as well and show where they are comparing to them.
Serbia had a lot of succes in the past on U19 World Cups. Two silver medals, in 2013 with ’94/95 generation (Vasa Micic, Nikola Jokic, Nikola Milutinov, Nikola Jankovic..), in 2011 with ’92/93 generation (Bogdan Bogdanovic, Aleksandar Cvetkovic, Luka Mitrovic..) and all well known 2007 in Novi Sad when Serbia took gold medal beating USA team led by Milan Macvan, Stefan Stojacic, Dusan Katnic, Mladen Jeremic and others.
Serbia is bringing 9 players from U18 Championships squad, there is only 3 newcomers – Ognjen Micovic (PG), Aleksa Cubic (SF/SG), Lazar Grbovic (SF/PF). Coach is also the same – Aleksandar Bucan.
Play style will be probably oriented on big guys because the biggest power and strenght of this team present 3 inside players – Filip Petrusev, Marko Pecarski and Dalibor Ilic. It will be interesting how coach Bucan will fit in those 3 guys and who will start and who will come from the bench. Ilic probably had the best season behind him of all three guys. Pecarski didn’t saw floor to much in this past season and so is Petrusev in his freshmen season at Gonzaga.
Duo Uros Trifunovic- Zoran Paunovic will try balance in the team. Those two will probably take the biggest burden on guard position. Trifunovic is expected to be starting PG. He had pretty good season with Mladost in KLS where he mostly played SG, but PG position isn’t strange for him especially he played it last year at U18 EC where he was biggest suprise of the tournament. Help in organizing the game he will have in Ognjen Micovic and Pavle Kuzmanovic. Micovic is best player of U19 Roda JLS and je is a real team leader and floor general. It’s going to be hard to expect of him to be productive as he was in his team by playing back up PG beacuse he needs minutes on the floor and ball in his hands and it’s harldy possible that he is going to have that in this team. Pavle Kuzmanovic could fit in that role much better.
Paunovic is going to be main scorer from outside. Even though he had season with a lot of oscilations in FMP it’s expected that he confirms his potential and be one of the most consistent players in the team.
It will be also interesting to see what role will have Mega Bemax’s duo Luka Cerovina-Altin Islamovic. Both players are now having solid senior season in KLS behind them. Islamovic is probably the purest shooters in this team , while Cerovina is one of the most versatile players. Last year Islamovic had more minutes and more important role then Cerovina, but Cerovina had good season behind him and he may be that player who will replace Arijan Lakic important role he had last year.
We will see how much new guys Aleksa Cubic and Lazar Grbovic can contribute and what role they will have. We shouldn’t forget Dynamic’s big Toma Vasiljevic who also had good season and even gained some senior minutes. He will be probably back up behind Pecarski and Petrusev like a last year.
ROAD TO THE THROPHY
Serbia will play in Group D with China, France and Puerto Rico.
First game Serbia will play vs China. They are bronze medalist from U18 Asian Championship 2018 behind Australia and New Zealand. Solid team led by Pennsylvania freshmen Michael Wang (PF) and Guo Haowen (SF). Good test at the start and chance to broke the ice and start tournament in right way.
Second game is vs Puerto Rico. It’s still unknown with what roster they will come, but they will be probably led by USA pupils Andre Curbelo (PG), who is bringing intrest from many major NCAA programs and George Conditt, Iowa State big men.
Third game in group is the most difficult one. France definetely belong among favorites for the title in this tournament. Their team, same like Seriban, includes just three changes from the side that finished third at the U18 EC. Back then we defeat France in the semifinals 78:67 led by Pecarski’s 27 Pts. Star of the team is Filip Petrusev’s teammate Joeal Ayayi who also like Petrusev didn’t have too many minutes in his freshmen year. Undersized center Mathis Dossou-Yovo is also going to have big role in this team, so as guards Yohan Choupas and Karlton Dimanche.
If Serbia pass the group they are crossing with group C where are:
Russia led by guard duo Nikita Mikhailovskii and Aleksandr Ershov.
Argentina led by Francisco Cáffaro who plays in the University of Virginia, the most recent NCAA champions and Leandro Bolmaro who plays for FC Barcelona.
Greece, who didn’t have so much success at U18 EC in 2018 as they finish on 14th place, but they will home team, they will have crowd on their side and will be led by year younger Nikos Rogkavopoulos.
Philippines, probably the weakest team in Group C, but country where basketball is rising and they are always unpleasent to play.
Other favorites for title are definetely USA team who is coming is strong roster led by Evan Mobley and Jalen Green in first place, and also with few more future NBA stars like Julen Suggs, Cade Cunningham, Ziaire Williams and Scottie Barnes.
Canada also belongs to group of favorites. South Carolina bound AJ Lawson will be the key player of the team. Serbian native Luka Sakota is also a candidate for final roster.
Lithuania will be missing missing Deividas Sirvydis, who was selected in the 2019 NBA Draft, but they will be led by guard duo Martynas Arlauskas and Rokas Jokubaitis.