Wednesday, May 9, 2007

World Basketball Champions

Dejan Bodiroga
Indianapolis, Indiana August 29-September 8, 2002
1. Yugoslavia (7-2)
2. Argentina (8-1)
3. Germany (6-3)
4. New Zealand (4-5)
5. Spain (7-2)
6. USA (6-3)
7. Puerto Rico (6-3)
8. Brazil (4-4)
9. Turkey (4-4)
10. Russia (3-5)
11. Angola (2-6)
12. China (1-7)
13. Canada (2-3)
14. Venecuela (1-4)
15. Algeria (1-4)
16. Lebanon (0-5)
U.S. advanced to the Sept. 5 medal round quarterfinals with a No. 2 Seed. In a do-or-die quarterfinals game featuring the two teams most felt would meet in the gold medal contest, the USA watched its gold medal hopes come crashing down around it after defending world champion Yugoslavia rallied back from 10 points down with 6:42 remaining in the fourth quarter to take an 81-78 victory.
The United States' scoring was led by Pierce and Andre Miller who each tallied 19 points, while Yuogslavia was paced by Sacramento Kings All-Stars Predrag Stojakovic and Vlade Divac. Stojakovic finished with a game high 20 points and Divac added 16 points and 11 rebounds.
In the World Championship gold medal game, Yugoslavia defeated Argentina 84-77 in overtime as Dejan Bodiroga scored 27 points, including nine in a row at the end of regulation to rally his team from an eight-point deficit.
The gold medal victory was Yugoslavia's second consecutive and its fifth gold medal in the World Basketball Championships.
In the bronze medal game, Germany, earned its first-ever medal in the World Basketball Championships after overcoming an early deficit to defeat New Zealand 117-94.
Pedja Stojakovic, Vlade Divac and the Yugoslavian team danced, hugged and celebrated at the center of Conseco Fieldhouse.
More than 1,000 of their flag-waving, chanting supporters serenaded them with cheers and applause.
Pulling off one of the biggest victories in its history, Yugoslavia defeated the United States 81-78 Thursday night in the quarterfinals of the World Championships.
Yugoslavia had been looking forward to playing the U.S. team for months, and the manner in which they won validated all their hard work and bold talk.
In Belgrade, Serbs fired shots into the air and danced and sang to celebrate their team's victory.
Several thousand people celebrated the victory at a downtown square. The fans took to the streets in cars and on foot, honking horns and setting off firecrackers.
In New Belgrade, residents set off fireworks and lit flares.
Yugoslavia fought back from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter to send the U.S. team to yet another loss.
"It's embarrassing, on our home turf,'' Regie Miller said. "We have to walk away from it as a learning experience.''
Stojakovic, one of five NBA players on Yugoslavia's roster, scored 20 points. Vlade Divac added 16 - all in the first half, and Milan Gurovic had 15.
Argentina drew first blood. But it was Yugoslavia that delivered the knockout blow to USA Basketball.
In an intense battle that wasn't expected until the gold medal game, Yugoslavia battled back from a 10-point fourth quarter deficit to defeat the United States 81-78. The loss kicks Team USA out of medal contention.
"It's just a great win," Peja Stojakovic said after the game. "We had to fight. We came out as a team and kept our intensity up. You're not going to beat the Dream Team every day.'
To add insult to injury, it was a non-NBA player, Milan Gurovic, who put the dagger in Team USA's heart. Gurovic was 3-for-3 from the 3-point line in the fourth including a huge 3 with 58 second left to put Team Yugo up by four. Two of Yugoslavia's NBA players, Predrag Drobjnak and Vladimir Radmanovic, never even got in the game.
"It's tough to swallow for me," Paul Pierce said. "I'm very disappointed in the fact that we let our country down -- on the U.S. soil."
Despite the huge stakes and the attractive match-up, American fans stayed away as the game drew just 5,362 people. Yugoslavian fans outnumbered American fans 3 to 1. Reggie Miller tried to get the fans chanting U-S-A, U-S-A several times but the chant of YU-GO-SLAVIA quickly drowned them out.
By the end of the game, Team USA could have been playing in Belgrade.

"It didn't feel like I was playing in America," Stojakovic said. "I felt like I was playing at home. Our people appreciate us. Playing for them brings us joy."
Vlade Divac seemed to be saving his best for the United States. After averaging just 7.7 ppg in the first six games, Divac exploded for 16 points and five rebounds in the first half. Divac's play helped Yugoslavia outscore the U.S. 24 to 10 in the paint and 12 to 4 on second chance points.

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