Serbia and China open their 2023 FIBA World Cup adventure on Tuesday. These two teams met just a couple of days ago, and the Serbs showed their dominance in that contest. This is expected to be a one-sided game with the former world champs smashing their rivals.
Serbia (-3000) has played five games to prepare for the FIBA World Cup. Svetislav Pesic and his team have only suffered one defeat, which was against Italy, a team the Serbs can’t figure out over the past few years. They were up 17 points, yet couldn’t keep that lead. On the other side, their victims were Giannis-less Greece, Puerto Rico, Brazil, and China.
The team’s top player is Atlanta Hawks’ guard Bogdan Bogdanovic, who, in the absence of Nikola Jokic and others, has been appointed captain for this tournament. Alongside him, as one of the most dominant players in Europe at the center position, Nikola Milutinov is the second violin. With numerous absences, Nikola Jovic might be the refreshment the Serbs needed over the past two cycles. Miami’s forward is Erik Spoelstra’s latest project, and according to his and Pat Riley’s words, this guy has serious talent.
According to all world rankings, Serbia was considered the number one favorite in the previous World Cup in China. They come to the Philippines as a dark horse, and no one sees them as leading contenders. As a result, we may see a more relaxed approach from these guys, without pressure, and in those situations, the Serbs are very dangerous.
China (+1400) started their preparations for the FIBA World Cup much earlier than others. They have played a total of six games, posting a negative record of two wins and four defeats. China was defeated by Serbia, Italy, Germany, and Italy again. The only wins were over the Cape Verde Islands and New Zealand.
The quality of the Chinese teams is on its bench, with the former Serbian national team head coach, Aleksandar Djordjevic, leading the way. Since he took over, Djordjevic’s been trying to incorporate some new ideas into the rigid system the team created in the past. The majority of Chinese players lack international experience, and there isn’t an NBA talent in the team like in the past. Still, China is not coming to the World Cup waving a white flag.
The naturalized American, Kyle Anderson, or Li Kaier in Chinese, has emerged as the best player on the squad. The 29-year-old from New York, who has been in the NBA for the past nine years, has enough experience to lead the team, but he won’t have some notable help from others.
The remaining squad consists mostly of young players from the domestic league. No Yao Ming or Whang Zhizhi. That’s why China is considered to be one of the worst teams in the tournament.
Serbia is without Jokic, Micic, Pokusevski, Kalinic and many other stars who were the pylons of the team in the past years. Of course, Jokic’s absence is the most notable.
There isn’t any news on the Chinese team.
Head to Head Games
The Serbs beat China five days ago, 87-64, on Chinese soil. This was the third direct meeting between these two nations, and each time, the Serbs were better.
The spread Serbia needs to cover is set at 18.5 points. In much more relaxed circumstances, they defeated China by 23 points five days ago. Now, when things become serious, we expect the Serbs to be even more confident and easily cover the offered margin.
Pick: Serbia -18.5 -110
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.