THE unexpected injury of forward Borisa Simanic became the rallying point of Serbia in its 87-68 victory over previously unbeaten Lithuania, in the quarterfinals of the FIBA World Cup 2023 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Serbian superstar Bogdan Bogdanovic, was the first to acknowledge it.
“This is for him (Simanic),” said Bogdanovic shoryly after scoring 21 points on 9-of-13 shooting in 27 minutes to power Serbia to the semifinals for the third time in the last four editions of the world’s biggest basketball event.
“I want to say something from this morning. Our teammate who is still with us, Borisa Simanic, he gave us amazing energy. We were nervous yesterday, moving to another hotel, I was especially nervous, because I was always losing to Lithuania in my young age. I was so nervous,” said the 6-5 superstar of the Atlanta Hawks during interview.
“And then I see the message from Borisa, he was saying, ‘Guys, I’m good, don’t worry. Let’s win tonight!’ For him just to think about us after everything that happened to him (losing a kidney), he united us. He’s that’s an amazing guy,” he added.
Bogdanovic was referring to teammate Borisa Simanic, who had one of his kidneys removed due to a complication on an injury he sustained during Serbia’s 115-83 win over South Sudanat the Smart Araneta Coliseum last Aug. 30.
South Sudan player Nuni Omot , who hit Simanic with an accidental left elbow while attempting a reverse layup, has already apologized to the Serbian and offered his prayers after the unfortunate incident.
Simanic underwent two surgeries in an undisclosed Manila hospital, but still found time to show his support to his teammates before the knockout quarterfinal game against Lithuania.
It served a motivation for the team, according to Bogdanovic.
With Simanic still recovering, Serbia played one of its better games against European heavyweight Lithuania.
Now, the Serbians are back in the semis as they look to improve their fith-place finish in the 2019 edition in China.
Serbia also reached the semifinals in 2010 and the final in 2014.
At the center of it all is Bogdanovic, the 31-year-old Belgrade-born shooting guard, who was selected No. 27 overall by the Phoenix Suns during the 2014 NBA draft.
As per FIBA, this was Bogdanovic’s ninth game with 20+ points since the start of the last World Cup in 2019.
No other player has more than seven in that same span.
..Bogdanovic also climbed over the 400 mark in points scored in his World Cup career, becoming only the sixth man to reach that milestone in this century.