Turning Point: Lithuania stormed back to tie the game early in the third until a calm and collected Nemanja Nedovic simply put the resistance to rest. He scored nine points in a hurry to help Serbia reclaim their strong first half lead.
Game Hero: Nenad Krstic was spectacular in a four quarter effort scoring 20 points to go along with nine rebounds.
Stats Don't Lie: Two second scoring runs- a 16-4 spurt to break open the game in the third and a 7-0 run into the fourth- proved too much for Lithuania to eventually come back from in the second half.
|Nemanja Bjelica and Serbia were fearless in the face of their more seasoned opponents|
Serbia responded to a ferocious second half comeback to ease to a 63-56 win over Lithuania in the EuroBasket Group B opener for both sides.
Young shooting guard Bogdan Bogdanovic opened up Serbia's account with a three, but the first half of the quarter belonged to veteran center Nenad Krstic. The pivot scored at will inside, even dazzling at times with an array of pretty post moves.
Jonas Valanciunas and Jonas Maciulis provided a couple of scoring options for a stagnant Lithuanian offence, however Serbia's dominance in the paint- 13-6 rebounding advantage and scoring 12 points inside - resulted in a 10-point quarter time lead.
Linas Kleiza and Darjus Lavrinovic threw down a couple of highlight reel dunks to begin the second quarter to re-energise a Lithuanian side that shot just 4-for-13 over the first 10 minutes. Their teammates proceeded to play better, cutting the deficit to six at the main break behind seven second quarter points from Darjus Lavrinovic.
Lithuania stormed out of the halftime break to score consecutive triples, including one from a shot-clock-beating effort from Renaldas Seibutis. They would come no closer.
Krstic stood tall, ending the run with a tough bucket and drawing an offensive foul on Valanciunas down the other end before Nedovic took the game into his own hands. The guard was instrumental in a 16-4 Serbian run, scoring nine points in five minutes to push the lead back to 10 points.
"We played a really good game," a humble Nedovic said.
"The first game is always tough, but we showed great energy, great passion and I think we deserved the win."
Krstic and Nedovic again caused all the problems as Serbia built a tighter grip on the lead.
Serbia were forced to endure another Lithuanian comeback with the deficit dropping to just four points with a little more than four minutes remaining, but the young Serbian group refused to crumble, sealing the win as Nedovic and Krstic combined for a flashy and-one sequence in the final two minutes.
"We have nine guys playing for the first time at EuroBasket; they don't know this, they don't care, they don't respect anyone on the court, that's a good thing for us," Krstic enthused post-game.
Serbian coach Dusan Ivkovic praised the defence effort of his players.
"My team is very young," he said.
"We have nine players that are playing in this competition for the first time and I think this win will be motivational for the next games.
"I think we prepared well - especially the defence - because against a team like Lithuania with good quality players, we only let them score 56 points."