'Punk Rock' Hoops: Serbia Aims For 3x3 Basketball Olympic Glory
Zeeshan Mehtab 3 months ago Tue 15th June 2021 | 03:10 PM
Novi Sad, Serbia, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 15th Jun, 2021 ) :Four friends shoot hoops on a shady court tucked between housing blocks in northern Serbia, but this is not a casual afternoon get-together -- the men are training for the Olympics.
The Balkan nation has won four out of six World Cups and currently tops the team and player rankings.
He has since refurbished it, with his nickname "Bulut-proof" inscribed on concrete blocks around the court.
"But we spent a lot of time on this particular one. We'd come here when we skipped school because nobody could see us." Before reaching stardom in 3x3, Bulut, now 35, was a struggling point guard whose basketball career included stints in Serbia and North Macedonia.
"I wasn't happy with my life and the path which my career took," Bulut says.
"I simply realised that I had attributes which should make me successful, but the opportunity never came." He left to pursue a career in street basketball and never looked back.
"It's about personal expression and creativity, whereas basketball is more systematic and complex," says Bulut.
And the training regime and schedule are as punishing as any other sport, adds Bulut's teammate, 29-year-old Aleksandar Ratkov.
- 'Turning point' - But no matter if it is one or two hoops, players from the Balkan country are excelling in the NBA.
Denver Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic recently scooped the NBA Most Valuable Player award, Vasilije Micic of Turkish club Anadolu Efes was voted best player in the Euroleague and Dusan Bulut tops the world rankings in 3x3 basketball.
The country was a major basketball name even during the days of Yugoslavia, when the socialist authorities provided a court in almost every neighbourhood.
Many future stars grew up on these courts, relentlessly copying their idols and playing amateur street basketball tournaments.
"Basketball is a sport where you constantly face difficult situations, and I think the way of life in Serbia is just like that," says Bulut.
"I think this sport will flourish after the Olympics," 27-year old Mihailo Vasic told AFP.
"Most people are not yet familiar with it, but I believe the Games will be a turning point."