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USA men to take on world powerhouse Serbia
U.S. men’s water polo coach Dejan Udovicic could have selected an easier opponent for a four-match tune-up series that runs through Southern California this week.
He instead picked one of the toughest teams in the world.
Serbia, the bronze medalist the past three Olympics and the two-time defending FINA World Cup champion, will take on Team USA and Tony Azevedo in the matches starting Tuesday night at UC San Diego at 7.
The teams will also play Thursday night at Riverside City College at 7:30 and Sunday night at El Toro High at 5. The series concludes June 9 at a sold out-University of Illinois, which is expected to host a large number of Serbia fans.
“When we play against a powerhouse team, it’s very good for us,” said Udovivic, whose team is preparing for its Olympic qualification tournament at the Pan American Games in Toronto in July.
“(Serbia) also is using this (to prepare) for the FINA Super Final at the end of June. … They want to win that competition to qualify for the Olympics.”
The U.S.-Serbian series will also give Udovicic a final chance to evaluate players before he finalizes his roster Saturday for the Pan American Games and FINA Super Final.
The U.S. squad will feature the return of veteran goalie Merrill Moses, who helped the Americans capture the silver at the 2008 Olympics. Moses also Team USA’s goalie in 2012 when it finished eighth.
Other newcomers to watch are defender Alex Roelse (UCLA), attacker Nikola Vavic (USC) and goalie Justin Parsons (Cal). Moses, Roelse, Vavic and Parsons weren’t on the U.S. roster for the recent FINA Intercontinental tournament at Corona del Mar, where the Americans claimed bronze.