By Jared Grellet
|Marius Grigonis drove, spun and scored on a floater to decide the game in favour of Lithuania|
Turning Point: Leading 64-58 with 4:11 to play, Serbian coach Dejan Mijatovic calls a timeout. It works against his team as Lithuania outscore their Balkan rivals 11-3 over the remaining plays.
Game Hero: Marius Grigonis. Hits the game-winning shot with five seconds to play.
Stats Don't Lie: Lithuania out-scored Serbia 48-36 in the paint.
Marius Grigonis has made the biggest shot of his life, hitting a floater with five seconds to play to send Lithuania to the gold medal game of the Samsung U18 European Championship.
It was far from a perfect game for Grigonis who finished with 10 points on four-for-12 shooting from the field, but when he was called upon, the forward came up with the big play with Serbia not left enough time to get another good look at the hoop.
In front of the biggest crowd to date at Siemens Arena, the Lithuanians were making early inroads with Augustinas Jankaitis muscling up under the basket to pick up an early eight points, helping the home team to be in front 21-16 at the end of the opening quarter.
But Serbia was hanging tight and with Luka Andusic and Nikola Jankovic beginning to stamp their authority inside the paint, Serbia were back within a point before Rokas Gustys added a late jump-shot to keep Lithuania in front, 38-35 at the break.
Jankovic was coming up with the clutch plays in the third quarter, silencing the partisan crowd with one of the biggest dunks seen in the tournament to date early in the piece. Following four lead changes, it was Lithuania clinging on by one, 52-51, going into the final stanza.
Serbia broke early in the final period and when Grigonis shot an air-ball from the top of the arc with six minutes remaining, Serbia pounced. Jankovic immediately came up with two points at the other end of the court to put Serbia up by eight, forcing Lithuanian coach Arunas Visockas to call the timeout.
The timeout was enough to refocus the Lithuanian team and with the crowd becoming more vocal on every play, the comeback was on, seeing Mijatovic call a timeout at the other end of the court.
But it failed to work in the Serbian coach's favour and on a Simas Raupys three-pointer from the corner with 2:52 to play, Lithuania were back within three.
When Jankovic fouled out with 1:37 left, there were further concerns for Serbia with their leading scorer out of the game.
Jankaitis tied the game up with a lay-up with 47 seconds to play and when Stefan Pot missed a lay-up at the other end, lit was up to Grigonis to make the winning shot.
Raupys finished as top-scorer for Lithuania with 18 points, whilst Jankaitis had 14 points and eight rebounds.
Jankovic and Andusic both picked up 17 points for Serbia.