Borisa Simanic, recovering from surgery, inspires Serbia run to semis


Serbia celebrates after clinching a spot in the Fiba World Cup semifinals at Mall of Asia Arena. -MARLO CUETO/

MANILA, Philippines—Serbia got a timely shot in the arm from recuperating forward Borisa Simanic hours before its Fiba World Cup quarterfinal showdown with Lithuania on Tuesday.

Simanic is still in the hospital where he underwent two operations and had one of his kidneys removed after taking an inadvertent elbow from South Sudan’s Nuni Omot in the group phase last week but that didn’t stop him from helping Serbia move on to the semifinals.

“He (Borisa) texted us this morning and said, ‘guys, I’m alright. After two surgeries, I’m alright, I’m healthy, just get the win, don’t think about me and let’s win tonight,’” said Serbian star Bogdan Bogdanovic following an 87-68 rout of Lithuania at Mall of Asia Arena.

“It was a huge boost and huge energy for us so thanks to Borisa, this game is for him.” 

Simanic’s message seemed to have resonated more with Bogdanovic in particular.

Bogdanovic admitted that he was nervous heading into the game against the Lithuanians.

Bogdan Bogdanovic Serbia Fiba World Cup

Serbia’s Bogdan Bogdanovic. -MARLO CUETO/

“I was especially nervous. [When] I was somehow in my young age, I was always losing against Lithuania and I was so nervous.”

“Then I saw the message from Borisa in the morning after the long meeting… For him just to think about us after everything that happened to him. He united us and that’s an amazing, amazing guy, and this is for him as well.”

Bogdanovic ended up scoring a game-high 21 points to go along with four rebounds, three assists and two steals.

Buoyed by Simanic, the Serbians continued their hot shooting, making 55 percent of their attempts against a formidable Lithuania side that was coming off a 110-104 shocker against World Cup favorite Team USA two nights ago.

Serbia faces either Canada or Slovenia in the semifinals.

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