Serbia will travel to Turkey this summer looking to show that their silver-medal winning performance at EuroBasket 2009 in Poland was no fluke. Against all expectations, they upset heavily-favoured Spain in their first game and ended up making it all the way to the final. While the Spaniards avenged the tournament-opening setback by beating the Serbians to the title, there was no chance that that disappointment was going to spoil the celebrations back home in Belgrade.
"For the people of Serbia, it was like a gold," Kosta Perovic told FIBA.
"I'm proud. Before the EuroBasket, no one thought that we were going to do anything. But that was a team with potential, a young team, with a great wish to prove the energy, to prove the basketball work from Serbia, and of course with coach (Dusan) Ivkovic, who put all things together. Everything worked great. I was really proud to be a part of that to win a medal."
Perovic, a 7ft 1 in (2.14 m) center, was one of many players to blossom under new coach Dusan Ivkovic and much of the Serbians' success has been attributed to him. Ivkovic's goal, which was shared by all his players, was to win enough games to reach the FIBA World Championship.
Perovic, 25, said: "He's a great coach. He proved that in his career so many times, coaching great teams and the national team. At the moment, when we were between generations changing of the national team, some other coaches tried to put things together. He came with a different philosophy. It was great for him to select a certain amount of players and to put all things together. For me, he's one of the best coaches ever."
One of the consequences of Serbia's great run is that the players returned to their clubs feeling more upbeat about their careers. Milos Teodosic, the point guard, earned a spot on the all-tournament team in Poland and went back to Olympiacos where he has helped the Reds win the Greek Cup and reach the Euroleague Final as well as the domestic top flight finals.
Perovic travelled back to Spain to play for Power Electronics Valencia, helping steer the Spanish club to victory in this year's Eurocup.
Success with a national team can help make a player feel very happy. Perovic arrives at practice every day with a spring in his step and a smile on his face.
"I feel really great with this club and this city. It's a great environment. Everything around me, great people we're in good shape right now," he enthused.
"We're in the Eurocup Final Four and have a chance to go into the Euroleague next year [Valencia would go on to win the Eu-rocup with Perovic bagging a game-high 17 points in the final]. I'm really satisfied with my game, and the game of my team."
And he sees a lot of similarities between his club of Valencia and the Serbian national team.
"It doesn't matter if you are going to be the big scorer one day, and not the other day. If someone is going good, the ball goes to him. There is no jealousy. As long as the team is winning, everything is good."
And winning is what Serbia has done under Ivkovic. This newfound success has reenergised the sport in Serbia, with fans pouring into arenas to watch basketball.
The Division A games at Belgrade Arena against Italy, Finland, Hungary and Bulgaria were played before huge audiences. In the opening Group A game against Hungary on August 27 2008, 18,000 fans watched Serbia roll to a 94-60 victory.
Thousands of fans poured into the venue to watch the qualifiers that followed, while there seems to have been a knock-on effect at club level.
Belgrade's love affair with the game can be seen in the unbridled passion of Partizan fans, who make a home-court advantage at the Pionir that is second to none. Partizan sell out on a regular basis these days and there was so much demand for tickets to watch the Euroleague quarterfinal games against Maccabi Tel Aviv, that the games had to be held at the Belgrade Arena.
More than 20,000 fans filled the venue and watched Partizan beat Maccabi in Games 3 and 4 that earned them a ticket to Paris for the Final Four.
"If they wanted, they could play in a football stadium in front of 60,000 to 70,000 easily for one basketball game," Perovic said.
"I know so many guys who couldn't even get into the arena that wanted to go to the game. Everybody wanted to be there, even the President of Serbia was up there. They were showing him on TV."
For Serbian basketball, results have produced renewed passion, while this passion has translated into a heightened sense of expectation ahead of the World Championship.
"Right now, people are going to expect something from us because of that silver medal from the EuroBasket. We'll have to work hard this summer to prepare ourselves as well as possible and go over there and play our game. It's again going to be a young team, and a team willing to show something."
Serbia's group A, which includes Argentina, Australia, Germany, Angola and Jordan, will be a tough group, but Perovic and Serbia have no reason to doubt themselves.
"We saw in the EuroBasket from a very strong group with Slovenia and Spain and Britain, that we can go further," Perovic said.
"Three teams (Serbia, Slovenia and Spain) from that group played for the medals. I think we have the experience to go there (Turkey) and fight for something."