Hawks swingman sets goals for 2023 FIBA World Cup

Atlanta Hawks, Bogdan Bogdanovic. (Photo by Luis Veniegra/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Atlanta Hawks, Bogdan Bogdanovic. (Photo by Luis Veniegra/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) /

Atlanta Hawks sixth man Bogdan Bogdanovic finally got his feet wet in the 2023 FIBA World Cup, leading Serbia to a convincing 105-63 victory over China on Saturday.

Bogdanovic finished the contest with 14 points, tying for the team lead, adding four rebounds, three assists, one steal, and one block. He also was far from shy about his mission while in the Philippines representing his homeland.

“To qualify for the Olympic Games and to win a medal,” Bogdanovic said, per Cesare Milante of EuroHoops on August 26.

Bogdanovic has Serbia on the path to accomplishing the first goal with their win over China. And they could have a good chance to accomplish the second if they survive their last two opponents. First is a tilt with Puerto Rico on August 28 before wrapping up the qualifying round against South Sudan on August 30.

“We expect the next two games to be much harder than the first against China”, Bogdanovic said, per Milante. “They’re both experienced teams, with a lot of good players.

“We know this is the first World Cup for South Sudan, but they came with a lot of players who can really hoop. … Puerto Rico is always tough to beat at the World Cup, they know how to play the game.”

Puerto Rico beat South Sudan 101-96 on August 26.

Both rosters have several current or former NBA or G League players on their rosters as well as players who have been drafted but remained overseas. Among them, Bogdanovic and Miami Heat big man Nikola Jovic are joined by prospects Marko Guduric of the Memphis Grizzlies and Filip Petrusev of the Philadelphia 76ers.

Bogdanovic tried to recruit Denver Nuggets superstar and two-time MVP Nikola Jokic to play in the tournament

Hawks’ Bogdan Bogdanovic can make good for Serbia

The FIBA World Cup host country – in this case, the Philippines – gets an automatic bid.

The rest of the bids go to the top two teams in America, the top two in Europe, and each of the top teams from Africa, Asia, and Oceania (Australia, New Zealand, and the surrounding islands as well as Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia), per Olympics.com.

Serbia failed in their last bid to make the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, falling 102-95 in the Finals to Italy in 2020.

But Bogdanovic was not on that Serbian squad, and he is a captain this time around.

To complete their quest for the Olympics, however, Serbia could have to face some talented teams in reining champion Spain – who is loaded with NBA talent – as well as France, or even Germany who roster the Wagner brothers, Franz and Moritz, as well as former Hawks point guard Dennis Schroder.

Their journey will not be easy but the sense of pride the players take in these games is palpable.

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Hawks fans can watch veteran guard Patty Mills take on Germany on Sunday, August 27, coming off his game-high 25 points in Australia’s tournament-opening win over Finland. And Bruno Fernando and Angola will try to avenge their opening-game loss to Italy against the Philippines