ALL eyes were on 7-foot-4 behemoth Boban Marjanovic, and rightfully so, but Serbia's tight 83-76 success over Gilas Pilipinas should also be credited to another player.
Philippine coach Tab Baldwin professed that the experience of Milos Teodosic was glaring in the joust between the two nations in the Fiba Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade.
"I think Milos Teodosic presented a lot of problems," he said of the 34-year-old court general.
"His ball screen play was tough for us to handle. We changed our defense and we started showing up on the screen, trying to take the ball out of his hands, and that was effective to some degree. But just sort of his ability to get the ball to the right people in the right occasions, with Boban scoring big and scoring late and Milos controlling the offensive game. Our defense was always under pressure by those guys."
Teodosic was as cool and calm as ever, burying three triples to rack up 13 points, but more importantly, set up his teammates where they needed to be as he also had six assists and four boards.
Three of those Teodosic assists came when it mattered the most for Serbia, with the former Los Angeles Clippers guard repeatedly feeding Marjanovic down low as the latter scored eight of the team's final 10 points.
BALDWIN: 'A lot of work to do'
In contrast, the offense is still far from what Baldwin desired, one which should be expected from this youthful crew given that it was leaning on the likes of SJ Belangel, RJ Abarrientos, and Jordan Heading in the absence of injured Dwight Ramos.
"I think offensively, our cohesion isn't near where we want it to be," the American-Kiwi mentor noted as the team shot 28-of-68 from the field, good for 41-percent, while also dishing out 21 assists.
"We haven't played a team of that caliber and that intelligence that Serbia plays the game with. So we were scrambling a lot."
To Baldwin, it's something that could still be improved, with the game against Dominican Republic next.
"I don't think you want to criticize your team for scrambling, but you also don't want that to be the character of your team offensively. You want to have a bit more cohesion," he said.
"So a lot of work to do, but we need to put this game behind us and get ready for Dominican Republic now."
We are now on Quento! Download the app to enjoy more articles and videos from SPIN.ph and other Summit Media websites.