Serbia are considered one of the best basketball nations in Europe but have struggled at times at EuroBasket 2011 with some up and down play. They still have strong chance of qualifying for the quarterfinals with a victory over Turkey in the final Group F second round game. heinnews’s David Hein is in Vilnius and talked to Serbian captain Nenad Krstic about Serbia’s poor showing against Spain; the development of the Serbian team over the years; returning to the Olympics; playing with Milos Teodosic with the Serbian national team and at CSKA Moscow; and the NBA lockout
heinnews: Nenad, what happened out there tonight against Spain?
Krstic: Tough loss for us. We didn’t show up today. We played really soft on defense. On the other side, every time we had an easy layup Spain were making hard fouls and not allowing us to score easy baskets. I think mentally we were not there. We were thinking about the next game against Turkey. If we win that game we will be in the quarterfinals. Mentally we were just not in the game.
heinnews: Talk a bit about the next game. You have a Turkey game with a chance for the quarters. That’s what you want.
Krstic: Exactly, we have a day off tomorrow so we have enough time to prepare for that game. We know the Turkish team pretty well from the past years. I’m 100 percent sure we’re going to be ready.
heinnews: What do Serbia need to do to beat Turkey?
Krstic: We need more energy. . I think our offense is fine, just defensively we were not there. Defensively we have to play with more energy. The game against Turkey for the quarterfinals is going to be totally different.
heinnews: How hard was it to play against the Gasol brothers?
Krstic: It was really tough. I think they’re the best centers, maybe in the world right now. It’s really tough, especially when they play together. To get into the paint is really tough.
heinnews: You have been playing with the Serbian national team for a number of years now. What do you think of the development?
Krstic: Yeah we have a young team. But they are young players that have a lot of Euroleague experience. They play so many tough games that they know how to play this tournament. That is our advantage. We always play with a lot of energy. We didn’t play like that tonight but most of the time we play like that – with a lot of energy and a lot of pride. That’s the reason for our success. Also they are young and hungry to get wins.
heinnews: You know Milos Teodosic really well from the past couple years. What is your opinion about him?
Krstic: Milos is the best point guard in Europe. When I saw him the first time I knew that one time he was going to be the best point guard. He is so talented and he has character. He’s just a winner. He just has something inside him.
heinnews: What will it be like to play with him this season at CSKA Moscow?
Krstic: It’s gonna be great experience. I am really looking forward to it.
heinnews: The Olympics is the biggest issue here. What would it be like to go back to the Olympics?
Krstic: That’s our goal right now. I am the only player on this team to play at the Olympics. I want to play another one. It’s really the best thing for a basketball player.
heinnews: The other big issue at this tournament is the NBA lockout. I know you went to CSKA, but what do you think about the whole lockout situation?
Krstic: The lockout has been tough. I’m sure a lot of players just want to play basketball. But there is also the business side. It’s just tough. That’s why I decided to go to Russia. CSKA is obviously a great team, but my goal was always to play in the NBA. But who knows when it is going to finish.