From Pešić to Pešić: Željkova 2005, Duda’s Renaissance, Salet’s Silver and Golden Age

After a series of tandem successes Dusan IvkovicŽeljko Obradović at the end of the last millennium, and failure Жоцового team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, where he finished only sixth, it was time for a change. The new century also meant a new name on the bench. It may sound familiar, but Svetislav Pesic he was placed on the bench to improve the situation and return the national team to the old ways with the new team.

From 2001 to 2021, from Svetislava Pesic to Svetislava Pesic, on the bench of our national team (whatever the official name of the country was), sat the greatest basketball greats in the coaching business. Some had slightly greater successes, some less, some pure failures.


Serbia won the first two and the last gold medals in this century under the coaching staff Svetislav Pesic.

First at the European Championship in 2001, and then at the World Championship in Indianapolis in 2002, which will become, and probably will forever remain the greatest success of our national team. Winning the World Cup in the United States, at a time like that, is something that is hard to repeat.

Pesic gave a bigger role in the new team Milan Gurovic,, Mark I will go and especially Too dear Stojakovic, while Dejan Bodiroga became the new captain. It all ended with absolute domination in Istanbul (one of the most dominant Eurobaskets won in history), as well as history in Indianapolis. Trojke Gurovića, Stojakovic i Jaric, victories over the USA and Argentina … For all time.


New country, Serbia and Montenegro, also a new selector in mind Duško Vujošević. As the current champion of Europe and the world, our country started with a change of generations, Vlade Divac stopped playing for the national team, Dejan Bodiroga asked for a year off after seven consecutive years in the national team. In the end – the sixth disappointing place at the European Championship in Sweden in 2003.

After all, Željko Obradović has (again) taken over the national team for the Olympic Games in Athens. Then Too dear Stojakovic he didn’t get a call, and later the more great shooter didn’t wear the jersey of our national team. Although Bodiroga returned to the team, there were also NBA players Vladimir Radmanović i Predrag Drobnjak (Darko Milicic did not play due to a hand injury), the worst place in the history of the Olympic Games was recorded – as many as 11.

All that was a great overture for what follows – the European Championship in Serbia and Montenegro in 2005. Huge euphoria, Belgrade hosts Eurobasket for the third time. The gold medal was not expected, but registered in advance.

And then a fiasco ensued. We won’t remember too much about that nasty 2005, it’s enough (just who knows how many times) to watch Zeljko Obradovic’s press conference. Bad atmosphere in the team, disagreement of the players … It couldn’t have ended otherwise than with a defeat by France in the eighth finals.

You don’t have to, though Obradovićevo acting in a selector’s position is remembered only after this failure. A large Željko In his career, he brought our country Olympic silver in Atlanta, world gold in Greece in 1998, and European gold in Spain in 1997. As a player, he was a silver medalist in Seoul at the 1988 Olympics, and a gold medalist at the 1990 World Cup in Argentina.

The 2006 World Cup in Japan followed, and the coach was there Dragan Šakota, while our national team found itself in the competition thanks to a special invitation, as a defender of the title won in 2002. Numerous changes in the team followed, "retirement”, and Vlado Šćepanović and Predrag Drobnjak decided to play for the Montenegrin national team, which separated from Serbia in a referendum that same year. The championship started with a defeat by Nigeria in the first round, and the end was in the round of 16 where Spain was waiting for us and eliminated us. That was the last time the anthem was interpreted. "Hey, Slovenians"which accompanied Serbia from 1936 to 2006.

Serbia performed under that name for the first time at the European Championship in 2007, and he was the selector Zoran Moka Slavnic. It was not then that Serbia reached the medals in Spain, but it made a serious change of generations, there were as many as six players at the age of 20 – Milos Teodosic, Stefan Markovic,, News Veličković,, Nemanja Александров,, Dragan Labovic i Milenko Carpet, while the captain was Milan Gurovic. The average age was 22.3, so Serbia was the team with the most debutants in the history of the European Championships. And there it lies Slavnićev the greatest success. The result was a disaster.

Finally, the 14th place is also the worst in the history of Eurobasket of our national team.


With return Dušan Duda Ivković the renaissance began. And it all started not from scratch, but from minus. Serbia played qualifiers for the European Championship. Duda came to take the chestnuts out of the fire. And he succeeded. It is no coincidence that, after his recent death, many basketball fans called him "Patriarch of Serbian basketball".

Again, it was a young team with an average of 22 years, qualifications were successfully completed, and Ivković, with his knowledge and authority, took the Eagles to the second place at the European Championship in Poland in 2009. From the first match of the tournament and the victory over Spain, it was obvious that some new winds were blowing. In the end, unfortunately, there was no strength for Serbia to win Spain again in the final, but – Serbia returned to the top, where it belongs.

All great stories must have negative heroes, so that includes judges and hosts of the 2010 World Cup. Serbia was left without a medal in the end, but trampling the Tundzerija line in the semifinals will be remembered and retold for a long time. Another very painful topic. It was "fair” for Serbia to compete with the Americans in the final, but “That did not happen. Then Lithuania took the measure of our national team.

It was not easy to recover from that blow.

Failed at the European Championships in Lithuania in 2011, Serbia missed the Olympic Games in London in 2012, but managed to qualify for the European Championships in 2013 and win Italy in good matches in the match for seventh place in Slovenia. Nenad Krstić and Nemanja Bjelica. This ensured the placement at the World Cup in Spain in 2014. After this championship Duda Ivkovic he said goodbye to the national team and sat on the bench Alexander Djordjevic.


Some new energy was needed. And there could be no better man to come for that role than Aleksandar Djordjevic. Full of enthusiasm, he gathered the best he has and breathed a lot of enthusiasm into the national team before the World Cup in Spain in 2014. It was seen in the defeat by Spain when he gathered the players, encouraged them… New winds were blowing. And then from the round of 16 – a spectacle. Greece, Brazil and France fell in order, while the USA was still too much.

Silver from Spain meant that Serbia is again a big player on the world stage.

At the 2015 Eurobasket, Lithuania tripped the Eagles, who reached the fourth place, while the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro were what was long awaited. A medal at the Olympic Games has been awaited since Atlanta in 1996, and it has finally been welcomed. Silver again, but it was not possible against Amer in the final. After this competition, Stefan Markovic said goodbye to the national team.

The European Championship in 2017 followed, when Serbia could crown a great era with one gold, but Slovenia, with Luka Dončić and Goran Dragić, had different plans. It was a strange championship, too many dismissals from all sides in all national teams, and a new captain of the national team Milan Machvan took the national team to second place.

Another silver for Sale Đorđević. He became the first in history to participate in the finals of the European Championship, World Championship and Olympic Games, both as a player and as a selector. Although there was no gold, his era will be remembered as golden. A lot of success, but also a little regret …

Mostly because of the missed chance for gold in Istanbul and the fifth place at the World Cup in China in 2019, after which it was time to say goodbye.

Alexandra Đorđević on the bench of the national team he inherited Igor Chickens. Kokoškov’s biggest failure was the non-departure of the national team to the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Our national team had a great chance for that. But the defeat by Italy in Belgrade made his cheeks so dirty that a change had to take place.

And so we reached the end of the circle again. To Svetislava Pesic.

Can it Kari Pesic to restore the national team to its former glory, as it did at the beginning of this millennium?


Svetislav Pesic (2001 – 2003, European and world gold)

Dusko Vujosevic (2003 – 2004)

Zeljko Obradovic (2004 – 2005)

Dragan Šakota (2006 – 2007)

Zoran Slavnić (2007 – 2008)

Dusan Duda Ivkovic (2008 – 2014, European Silver)

Aleksandar Djordjevic (2014 – 2019, Olympic, World and European Silver)

Igor Kokoškov (2019 – 2021)

Svetislav Pesic (2021 -)


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