Atanasijevic hopes Serbia can progress after loss to USA


Coming off the bench, Aleksandar Atanasijevic managed to score 18 points for Serbia

Curitiba, Brazil, July 6, 2017 – Serbia came to Curitiba for the FIVB Volleyball World League Finals – Group 1 with the challenging task of becoming the first back-to-back champions of the decade. The Europeans' route to the mark is now in jeopardy, however, after they lost 3-1 to the United States in their first match in Pool K1.

There was good news for the Serbian side, though, with the return of 25-year-old opposite Aleksandar Atanasijevic to action after he missed Serbia’s last six matches in the Preliminary Round. Starting as a reserve, he came off the bench early in the first set and finished the match as the top scorer of his team with 18 points.

Watch: Aleksandar Atanasijevic interview

“It’s a wonderful thing to be back and to share the court with my teammates,” Atanasijevic commented after the match. “The bad thing is to lose the match. I could have played better, especially on serving because I was practising, I was doing my best, I was just not playing. I’ll try to be a little bit better against France.”

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The best opposite of the 2015 World League, Atanasijevic has a special motivation to pursue the title in Curitiba as he was sidelined because of an injury during the Finals last year and was not part of the team that defeated Brazil to win the gold medal in Poland.

“I think I bring them some bad karma”, he joked. “Being in the Finals is a big motivation for me. We will fight until the end and next match is the most important thing for us. It’s to be or not to be. We know how to play this tournament, you play it day-by-day”. 

With the United States already assured of a place in the semifinals, heavyweights Serbia and France, who won the World League title in 2015, will face each other in a win or go home match at 17:40 (local time) on Thursday.

“Two years ago, here in Brazil, we also debuted in the Finals with a defeat against Italy,” coach Nikola Grbic said. “We had to beat the reigning world champions Poland to advance and we did it. That’s what I told my players after the match. We lost the first match, but we still have a chance of qualifying and we will fight for it”.

Watch all the action live on the FIVB's YouTube page.


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