Serbia has been sharp in their first three games, while Italy is shaky, as evident in the upset loss to the Dominican Republic in the group stage. Then again, the last time these two met, the Serbians choked a big lead and lost.
Catch the game tomorrow, September 1st, at 4:00 PM.
Projected starting five:
- Bogdan Bogdanovic
- Stefan Jovic
- Nikola Jovic
- Nikola Milutinov
- Ognjen Dobric
Even without NBA champion and two-time NBA MVP Nikola Jokic, Serbia is looking mighty fine in the World Cup. They have raced to three-straight blowout victories. They beat the breaks off China by 42 points, dusted off Puerto Rico, 94-77, and then superbly dominated again against South Sudan, 115-83.
As expected, the two NBA guys are leading the way. Atlanta Hawks swingman Bogdan Bogdanovic is pacing the team in scoring at 18.0 points per game, while Miami Heat youngster Nikola Jovic is right behind him at 17.0 PPG. The non-NBA players are performing as well, with Nikola Milutinov registering a double-double through 13.3 points and 10.3 rebounds, and guard Stefan Jovic facilitating nicely with 8.3 APG. They are simply a well-oiled machine.
Here’s the catch, though: they have a lot to prove tomorrow. Not only does Serbia lost a handful to Italy in the international stage recently, they also just squandered a 17-point lead to them during one of the friendlies back in early August. We’ll see how well they can respond from that.
Projected starting five:
- Marco Spissu
- Stefano Tonut
- Niccolo Melli
- Simone Fontecchio
- Giampaolo Ricci
Italy is coming off a solid, 90-83 win over the Philippines. It was a slight redeemer from their underwhelming performance against Dominican Republic, where they were upset, 87-82.
The said victory should be able to aid the players’ confidence for tomorrow. They showcased good offense all-around as they buried 17 three pointers alongside 24 assists – Marco Spissu and Niccolo Melli had more dimes that the entire PH squad. Such is sure to add to their momentum, which is already on a high given the aforementioned big comeback win in the friendlies.
These Italians don’t have the same NBA glitter as the Serbians as Simone Fontecchio is their only guy currently on an NBA roster, and he’s mostly a bench warmer at that. However, they do have potential to match the outside shooting and unselfish passing, so who knows? They do have to cover some ground on scoring as they are only at 84.3 PPG thus far while Serbia is at 104.7 PPG.
Handicap: Serbia (-7) wins.
Over/Under: The total goes over 170.5