Serbia, the strongest nation in the 3×3 FIBA World Federation Rankings, sends eight players altogether for the Bucharest Challenger (August 12-13). Yet, with Novi Sad Al Wadha playing for the United Arab Emirates, only four of them will fly the Serbian flag. Together, they are Zemun.
When it comes to men’s 3×3 basketball, Serbia’s supremacy is quite impressive: the leading nation has almost twice as many points as the 4th ranked Netherlands and about 5 million points more than 2nd place, Slovenia (based on the individual points won by each country’s top 100 players). Furthermore, Serbia has 12 players among the best 25 in the world.
Zemun is Serbia’s third 3×3 squad and at the beginning of the season it was ranked 8th in the world. Bogdan Dragovic, Marko Dugosija, Lazar Rasic and Nikola Vukovic come to Bucharest looking for a third win in the season at a Challenger tournament, after two victories scored in China by Zemun – in Nanjing (late April) and Huai An (the second half of May). With two other tour victories in 2017, Zemun returns to Romania after the Challenger in Sibiu, where the boys put on a good performance, with four victories out of five sealed before the end of the regular time and a second place in the standings, after a close final lost to their fellow Serbian crew, Belgrade.
Star player: Nikola Vukovic
Zemun’s tallest player, at 2.03 meters, was chosen MVP at Nanjing Challenger. Nikola Vukovic is a reinvented player: since two years ago, he has reached an ideal physical profile, losing some extra 30 kilos. This gives him a considerable boost in both offense and defense. His hard work – both individual and with the team – is highly spoken of by his friend and team captain, Bogdan Dragovic.
Zemun often trains with Novi Sad, according to a recent interview given by Dragovic for the FIBA website. In a very intense team – as expected from any squad from Serbia, Nikola Vukovic brings a lot of charisma on Zemun’s plate and draws some fine extra smiles from every lady in the stands.
With three showings in the FIBA 3×3 World Tour Masters in 2017, Zemun is one of the teams that have a lot to offer. Only Novi Sad and Ljubljana have more Masters appearances in 2017 – reason enough to add Zemun on the list of teams most likely to reach the semis. Moreover, Zemun has won Challenger finals in 2017 against both Novi Sad (at Huai An) and Ljubljana (Nanjing).
Previous Raiffeisen Bank Bucharest Challenger participation: 2016 ( as Master Team Zemun)
Best result: quarterfinal – 2016, defeated by Ljubljana