By Aris Barkas/ email@example.com
Manila, Philippines – Lithuania was perfect and beat the USA in the FIBA World Cup group phases, but the quarterfinals are a different animal.
Led by an inspired Bogdan Bogdanovic, the Serbs got an easy 87-68 win and advanced to the semifinals, getting the job done between the second and the third periods.
Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 18 points of his 21 points in the first half, Filip Petrusev had 17, Stefan Jovic added 11 points and five assists, while Nikola Milutinov added nine and great defense against Jonas Valanciunas who was kept to 11 points.
Tadas Sedekerskis with 14 points and Rokas Jokubaitis with 13 were the top scorers of the losing side, which couldn’t keep up with the Serbs in the second half.
Still, Lithuania had an electric start with 4/4 threes and a 16-10 lead. However, after a steal and a bucket by Aleksa Avramovic, Serbia tied the score at 20 and the first period ended with “Lietuva” up by one (25-24).
Things changed in the second period and Serbia managed to build a 32-26 lead with an 8-1 run at the start.
Lithuania stayed within distance until Bogdanovic with a transition three made the score 41-33 with 3:26 left before the end of the quarter. Coach Kazys Maksvytis got a time-out, but his team was visibly shaken after that and with one more three-pointer by Bogdanovic the Serbs got an 11-point halftime lead (49-38).
The second half started with Lithuania making their own little 9-3 run (52-47), but Serbia kept its distance and even extended it after a dunk by Nikola Jovic and a three by Stefan Jovic, making it a 14-point game (62-48).
A time-out didn’t help Lithuania, Serbia led by 18 (69-51) and completed the third period up by 73-55.
There was no turning back after that, the point difference jumped to 25 points (82-57) and the game was over.
Serbia will face in the semifinal the winner of the clash between Luka Doncic’s Slovenia and Canada.
PHOTO CREDIT: FIBA