It wasn’t the first defeat of the Americans, but it certainly was the most painful, given the fact that they got disqualified from the next round in the World Cup in 2002 in Indianapolis. To be more precise, it was the first defeat in an official organization of the USA basketball team which included NBA players.
The calendar read “September 5, 2002” the day of the start of the quarterfinal stage of the World Cup. Even if the biggest superstars of the era were missing (Shaq, Kobe, Garnett, Kidd, McGrady, Carter, Duncan), the roster that was in the hands of George Karl was not insignificant. The roster included players like Paul Pierce, Reggie Miller, Jermaine O’ Neal, Baron Davis, Shawn Marion and Ben Wallace so the bar was set very high.
The signals were already there when USA defeated the Argentinians with a very close margin and as a consequence the Yugoslavians would not let their chance go to waste and sought for revenge in Indianapolis at the home court of the USA team.
Peja Stojacovic scored 20 point in his first year as an ALL STAR. Divac experience helped his team to dissolve the American paint and eat for breakfast Ben Wallace and Jermaine O’Neal. “I feel sorry for them,” Milan Gurovic said after the game. Ex Peristeri BC player killed the Americans with his lethal three pointers and put the ice on the cake at the end of the game.
Yugoslavian celebrations were endless and the night became day in Belgrade. This victory meant so much for the Yugoslavians three years after the NATO 78 DAY bombings where the Yugoslavians suffered the death of almost 5000 innocent civilians.