Aug. 2, 2008
RIGA, Latvia - The Serbian U20 team, featuring Washington State University men's basketball rising-junior Nikola Koprivica, defeated Slovenia, 90-78, Saturday at the 2008 U20 Men's European Basketball Championship at Arena Riga.
Serbia improved to 2-0 in group play with the victory, while Slovenia dropped to 0-2. The Serbians will look to remain undefeated in group play when they take on fellow group leader France (2-0), Sunday in the final game of group action.
"Tomorrow is going to be, I'd say the championship before the championship," Koprivica said. "I think it's going to be a pretty good game. I was watching them today, they are really athletic running up and down the court. It will be a little bit difficult for us, but I think we'll do well."
A native of Belgrade, Serbia, Koprivica came off the bench to score three points, while adding two assists and one rebound in twelve minutes. Koprivica, a 6-foot-6 guard for the Cougars, is the lone captain for the Serbian U20 team. He scored his lone points of the game off a 3-point play in the second quarter after being fouled on a made jump shot.
"Coach tried to play some guys who weren't playing very many minutes," Koprivica said. "The usual go-to guys didn't play a lot of minutes, coach tried to give us a rest. When you get in and an opponent is already playing well, it's not easy to stop them. We didn't play well in the first half, but in the second half we played good enough to win."
For the second-straight game, Serbia used a second-half comeback for the victory after trailing 22-16 at the end of the first quarter and 42-37 at halftime.
"I think in the fourth quarter we are breaking teams," Koprivica said. "We are playing fine in the first half, but our opponents are also playing well. In the fourth quarter we show our talent."
Once again Miroslav Raduljica led Serbia in scoring with 22 points, while Marko Keselj added 19. Mirko Mulalic led Slovenia with 17 points and Edin Alispahic added 14 points.
Group play concludes Aug. 3 as Serbia takes on France. Bracket play runs Aug. 4-7, before the championship game Friday, Aug. 8.