Milica Dabovic's driving lay-up with 2.87 seconds left gave Serbia a 67-65 shocker over 2005 EuroBasket Women and 2006 World Championship silver medallists Russia in Group F of the 2007 qualifying round.
Dabovic scored 15 of her game-high 28 points in the fourth quarter and five in the final 24 seconds as Serbia improved to 1-2 in the group while Russia dropped to 2-1 after Maria Stepanova's turn-around jumper at the buzzer went in and out.
|Ilona Korstin did what she could for Russia with 16 points and 11 rebounds.|
"We believed in ourselves but we didn't believe we could beat a team like Russia. We are a team that can turn things around from one day to the next. We gave our best on the court and we won. I am happy to finally know that we can beat any team provided we play well.“
Dabovic's sure hands was a big reason Serbia prevailed in Ortona as Jovica Antonic's team committed just four turnovers for the entire game – as Russia were unable to pressure the Serb back court.
No other Serb player scored in double figures though four tallied either seven or eight points.
Igor Grudin's Russians were led by double-doubles from Stepanova (18 points and 11 rebounds) and Ilona Korstin (16 and 11).
The Russian attack was somewhat slowed with a leg injury to starter Tatiana Shchegoleva in the first period.
A major problem for the European powers was a nightmare 9-of-21 (43%) showing from the free-throw line and hitting just 2-of-10 from long distance.
Grudin blamed his players rather than praise the Serbs.
"We lost because we weren't ready for this game. Serbia isn't very strong and we didn't think they can beat us. Dabovic had some interesting moments in this game. She alone won the game by herself against Russian team."
Serbia started on fire from the outside early with Sonja Petrovic and Milijana Musovic each hitting one three-pointer and Dabovic draining two long bombs in opening a 17-4 lead in the first four minutes.
Russia found themselves back into the game with Stepanova scoring two baskets during an 8-0 spurt. But Serbia were ahead 25-17 after one period.
The Serb advantage was back up to 11 points 32-21 with more than three minutes left in the half before a 9-2 Russian attack trimmed the margin to 34-30.
A Maja Miljkovic driving lay-up with two seconds gave Serbia a 36-30 cushion going into the locker-room.
That represented the first time at the 2007 EuroBasket Women that the Serbians were ahead at the break and the Russians trailed after one half.
Serbia's lead was 42-32 midway through the third quarter when Russia charged back with a 12-3 surge to get within 45-44 on Stepanova's basket late in the period, which ended with Serbia leading 47-44.
Russia fed the ball to Stepanova and remained close but couldn't pull even as Dabovic hit a number of big shots, including a long three-pointer and a jumper with the shot clock winding down in helping Serbia pull ahead 62-55 with two minutes remaining.
Korstin sandwiched inside baskets around two missed foul shots by Monika Veselovski to trim the deficit to 62-59.
Two Dabovic foul shots made it five points again before Olga Arteshina buried back-to-back three-pointers to even the game 65-65 with 11 seconds to go, setting up Dabovic's dramatic lay-up and Stepanova's good look but miss.
Serbia next face hosts Italy on Monday while Russia look to rebound with a showdown against Belarus.