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SRB - Talented, confident Serbs eyeing revenge v Spain
BELGRADE (FIBA U17 World Championship) - Serbia head into the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship a talented and confident team looking to exact revenge on Spain and giving two-time winners United States a run for their money.
"We lost the game. It was terrible. I still remember the shot," said Serbian guard Aleksandar Aranitovic, who played at the U16 Euros as an underage player and will play at the U17 Worlds from 8-16 August at just 16 years of age.
Aranitovic would be eligible to play for Serbia at this summer’s U16 European Championship and when asked if wanted to get back at Spain in that tournament, he responded: "We don’t really think about that. We will beat them in Under-17s, trust me."
One thing can be said of this Serbian group, besides being supremely talented, they are also supremely confident.
"We have a really good team. We have the best point guard in Europe in Stefan Peno, the best shooting guard in Vojislav Stojanovic and we are the best team in Europe. And I think we can play against the Americans."
Aranitovic made those statements at the 2014 Nike International Junior Tournament, where he helped Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade to a 55-42 thumping of Real Madrid in the final for the Serbian club's first NIJT title.
The Belgrade native showed in Milan that he can play against the best of even older age groups - he was actually playing in an Under-18 tournament as a 16 year old.
"He's a very smart player, and very tough. He has shown that he can play with older players," said Crvena Zvezda coach Klipa Slobodan about Aranitovic, who averaged 12.3 points, 2.3 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 1.3 assists at the NIJT.
"In the win over Madrid, Aranitovic led the Belgrade team with 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting to go with two rebounds."
Serbia, who will take on Argentina, China and Egypt in Group D of the U17 Worlds in Dubai, are loaded with talent. Nikola Rakicevic, Stefan Kenic, David Miladinovic and Borisa Simanic all teamed up with Aranitovic and NIJT MVP Stojanovic on the Crvena Zvezda title-winning team.
Aranitovic and the rest of those looking for a bit of revenge might have to wait a while into the tournament. With Spain in Group C, it’s not out of the question that Serbia wouldn't match up with the Spaniards until the Semi-Finals or even the Final.
Whether or not Serbia actually take on Spain in Dubai or not, the Serbs are confident they can finally add some hardware after finishing fifth in 2010 and not making the tournament in 2012.