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Domination of Yugoslav basketball continues

Yugoslav basketball players has confirmed in 1998 that they are playing, besides American professionals from the NBA, the most attractive and the best basketball in the world.

After lifting the sanctions, the Yugoslav national basketball team does not know what is failure. They returned to the great world scene in 1995 when they won the European champion title in Athens. One year later, the best Yugoslav basketball players lost to USA "Dream Team" in the finals of the Olympic Games in Atlanta, and in 1997 confirmed their superiority in Europe. In 1998, once again for the fourth time, they became the world champions.

The first coach of the Yugoslav national team Zeljko Obradovic had a lot of troubles to compose the team on the eve of the 13th World Basketball Championship. He could not count on the starters from Atlanta, Zoran Savic, Vlade Divac and Predrag Danilovic. Administrative obstacles prevented the Yugoslav players with the Greek citizenship, Stojakovic, Tarlac and Gurovic to finally play for Yugoslavia. Moreover, the captain of the national team Aleksandar Djordjevic arrived to preparations for the championship insufficiently ready due to operation of his injured leg.

The following players of the national team went to Athens: Dejan Bodiroga, Vlado Scepanovic, Sasa Obradovic, Nikola Loncar, Dragan Lukovski, Miroslav Beric, Aleksandar Djordjevic, Zeljko Rebraca, Predrag Drobnjak, Nikola Bulatovic, Dejan Tomasevic and Milenko Topic.

They returned to the place where they had become European champions three years before. This time, they added to their collection of medals another golden one.

Although this was primarily the collective and joint triumph of all the players, it would be unjustified not to mention the contribution of the two players - Dejan Bodiroga, officially proclaimed the best player of the championship and Zeljko Rebraca who sprang up into the best center in Europe.

Successful start: Obradovic

Athens, July 29 - Group B

YUGOSLAVIA - Puerto Rico 80-66 (47-30)

The start at the World Championship was successful as the traditionally inconvenient opponent Puerto Rico was overwhelmingly defeated. The Yugoslav players entered the game particularly motivated and after 20 minutes, the question of the winner was settled. The opponent's centers were kept away from the basket, which resulted in rebounds ratio 42-22 in favour of Yugoslavia.

The most efficient in the Yugoslav team were Beric, 23, Bodiroga 15 and Rebraca 14.

The best: Zeljko Rebraca

Athens, July 30 - Group B

YUGOSLAVIA - Russia 82-74 (68-68, 33-40)

The first great game of Zeljko Rebraca at the World Championship. He won the battle with high Russian centers, scoring 23 points and catching 14 balls. Equally good was Topic who scored at the moments when it seemed that the opponent would make the bigger difference. Russians were leading almost during the whole game, but no more than 10 points up, though the Yugoslavs got the finish of the game. At the end of the regular game, Bodiroga awkwardly reacted three times in the attack, but compensated it in the extra five minute time when he was unmistakable with free throws (8-8).

The most efficient in the Yugoslav team were Rebraca 23, Bodiroga and Topic 16 each.

Easy victory: Djordjevic

Athens, July 31 - Group B

YUGOSLAVIA - Japan 99-54 (47-26)

Big difference in quality was not the reason why all eleven players who played (injured Nikola Loncar did not play) should not render their maximum. Versatile play in defense enabled the Yugoslav team to gain a significant advantage already at the beginning of the game. Rebraca was dominant under the basket, and noticed contribution to the victory gave the guards - recovered Aleksandar Djordjevic, Obradovic and Lukovski.

The most efficient in the Yugoslav team were Obradovic and Lukovski 18 each, and Djordjevic 14.

The most efficient: Beric

Athens, August 2 - Group E

YUGOSLAVIA - Canada 95-55 (44-23)

The best Yugoslav players demonstrated again such a game that everybody put them on the list of the biggest favorites for the title of the World champion. From the very start, they played very seriously and achieved the 40 points difference victory against the opponent who had made a lot of troubles to Greece on the very first day of the championship. Beric was exceptionally accurate in the first halftime, while Tomasevic caught 14 balls. For the first time on the championship, Nikola Loncar entered the game, as he paused the first three games due to the injury.

The most efficient in the Yugoslav team were Beric 13, Obradovic 11, and Bodiroga 10.

Menegin i Bodiroga (right)

Athens, August 3 - Group E

YUGOSLAVIA - Italy 60-61 (25-29)

Defeat, as it turned out at the end, was of no importance. The team which was luckier and which succeeded to take advantage of all opponent's weaknesses won. Yugoslav players were dominant in rebounds as usual and had even 15 more ball caught, but had 20 lost balls and a very bad percentage of free throws.

The most efficient in the Yugoslav team were Rebraca 16, Obradovic 12, and Bodiroga 10.

Rebraca's block

Athens, August 4 - Group E

YUGOSLAVIA - Greece 70-56 (38-30)

In the victory against Greece, the best were Bodiroga and Topic, but we shall keep in memory the excellent game of Zeljko Rebraca who had seven fantastic blocks. The winner was practically solved at the beginning of the second halftime when the Greeks failed to score a single point. By that time, the Yugoslav national team made a series of 11-0 and was leading 49-30 which made the winner known.

The most efficient in the Yugoslav team were Bodiroga 19, Topic 10, Djordjevic and Rebraca 9 each.

No surprise: Djordjevic

Athens, August 7 - quarter finals

YUGOSLAVIA - Argentina 70-62 (34-31)

Before the game, the Argentineans were given only theoretical chances, but little they needed to make a sensation. Unusually, the Yugoslavs were playing hastily and were undisciplined in the attack so that in the first 20 minutes they had a very bad percentage of 3-points scoring, only 11-1. Having made the series of 9-2 at the beginning of the second half, Argentina turned the result completely to its favour and led 40-36. In the 30th minute, the difference was even larger 49-42. Then comes the captain of the team Djordjevic scoring seven points in a series and equalizing the result to 49-49. Then the Yugoslavs started playing better and with greater discipline, thus preventing the surprise.

The most efficient in the Yugoslav team were Bodiroga 14, Djordjevic and Rebraca 13 each.

Yugoslavia in final!

Athens, August 8 - semi finals

YUGOSLAVIA - Greece 78-73 (57-57, 31-33)

Carried away with 15 thousand rollicking spectators, the Greeks were leading most of the time, in the middle of the second halftime even with 49-36. The Yugoslav team proved to be a great team, since in the last 10 minutes, in spite of a bad result and heated atmosphere in the hall, it succeeded to consolidate its defense and made a series of 21-9 and get the extra chance in the overtime. In the additional five minute time, psychologically more stabilized Yugoslavs succeeded to win.

The most efficient in the Yugoslav team were Bodiroga 31, Rebraca 20 and Obradovic 9.

Skywalker: Zeljko Rebraca

Athens, August 9 - finals

YUGOSLAVIA - Russia 64-62 (30-35)

An uncertain game in which the hero was Zeljko Rebraca. Firstly, 23 seconds before the end of the game, when Yugoslavia was leading 57-56, he made a fantastic block and prevented Mihailov to score and in the next attack after Topic missed the free throw, he was the highest under the Russian basket and succeeded to score. Yugoslavia had the result of 60-56 and definitely solved the question of the winner and the world champion.

YUGOSLAVIA: Bodiroga 11, Scepanovic 5, Obradovic 7, Loncar, Lukovski, Beric 2, Djordjevic 7, Rebraca 16, Drobnjak, Bulatovic, Tomasevic 7 and Topic 9.


August 10, 1998 - The basketball national team of Yugoslavia received a tremendous welcome in Belgrade

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