BELGRADE (FIBA World Championship for Women) - The 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women is just around the corner. In the lead-up to the biggest international basketball event, we take an individual look at all 16 teams.
FIBA bwin Ranking Women: No.29
Last participation in the FIBA World Championship for Women: No previous appearance
Best result in the history of the FIBA World Championship for Women: No previous appearance
Result in qualifying tournament for 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women: 4th place at EuroBasket Women (5 wins, 4 defeats)
While Spain wrote the headlines at EuroBasket Women 2013, the worthy sub-plot was Serbia making a magnificent run all the way to the last four of the competition.
Not only did they surpass expectations to almost get on the podium, they booked what is a historic first appearance at a global tournament as an independent nation.
While Serbian players have performed a major role in the past success of Yugoslavia, including current Vice President of the National Federation, Ana Jokovic - it will be a hugely proud and passionate moment when Serbia line-up inside the Abdi Ipekci Arena in Istanbul at the weekend.
Things could have been so different for head coach Marina Maljkovic after her team lost their two opening games in France last year to leave their hopes balanced on a knife edge.
But to the significant benefit of women's basketball in Serbia, the team raised the profile to an entirely new level via their amazing exploits as they posted a spectacular five consecutive victories.
They will be hoping to continue their momentum based around the same core of players who punched their ticket for this trip to Turkey, led by Jelena Milovanovic who plays in the WNBA with the Washington Mystics.
She provides real presence in the paint and has range in her shooting, while Jovana Rad is rarely given the credit she deserves for what she brings in the forward role.
The backcourt is stacked with talent, including guard Tamara Radocaj who is rarely in the spotlight and yet one of the most trusted players of Coach Maljkovic, while Dajana Butulija also brings an understated but highly effective skill-set.
Perhaps inevitably grabbing the attention are the sister act of playmaker Milica Dabovic and her younger sister Ana who is a swingman and possesses real firepower.
Meanwhile, one player whose introduction to the senior national team has coincided with two years of success is shooter Nevena Jovanovic who has also impressed at club level in Hungary.
To gauge the prospects of Serbia is difficult and if they can avoid a slip-up against Angola and manage to beat China, then their hopes would really look very good indeed.
They showed during EuroBasket Women just how streaky they are and when they get momentum behind them, they are a hard team to stop. They fight very hard too, but it will inevitably be the level of their defence which proves critical.
Serbia is fiercely proud of all of its ballers and if the women post anything like the kind of results they did in France, then it could be viewed as a real triumph taking into account how the men did in Spain.FIBA
photo Getty Images
photo Getty Images