(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Vlade Divac may just have been the good luck charm the Serbian women's basketball team needed for a very historic win.

President of Serbia's Olympic Committee and general manager of the NBA's Sacramento Kings, Divac sat on the front row Friday at the Youth Arena supporting the women. Serbia, making its Olympic debut in these games, routed China 80-72 for its first victory in the Rio Games. 

He sounded confident about the game even before tipoff. 

"I'm sure they're going to find a way to succeed,'' Divac said. "So this is a very important game for us. I feel good about it.''

Divac had good reason to expect a good game and even a win. Serbia, under coach Marina Maljkovic, had been playing very well this week. The Serbians lost their Olympic opener by six to Spain and came up four points short against Canada. They also gave the United States its toughest game despite losing by 26 on Wednesday. 

Serbia qualified for its first Olympics by winning the 2015 Eurobasket, two years after they finished fourth in that contest. Divac credited Maljkovic for the program's great success in recent years.

Now Serbia only needs to beat winless Senegal on Sunday to advance to the medal round. The Serbians (1-3) now own the tiebreaker over China (1-3) who wraps up group play against the United States.

"Hopefully, we can have success in the Olympics,'' Divac said during an interview in the arena between the third and fourth quarter. 


Once the final horn sounded, the Serbians came together and hugged on the court. Forward Danielle Page, who played in college at Nebraska, called it a special moment.

"It feels good obviously,'' Page said. "We had a big lead, and we messed around again and almost made some critical mistakes. But a win's a win, and we're very happy and excited about it.''

(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

The Serbians won't be happy simply advancing to the medal round, even if this is the country's first time in this tournament. 

"We've got some really talented girls on this team,'' Page said. "You never know. Ana (Dabovic) can get hot. Jelena (Milovanovic) can get hot. One of those girls get going, there's no telling what could happen."