Referees: Zdravko Rutesic (MNE), Anna Cardus (ESP), Plamen Simeonov (BUL)
Serbia Rebound In Earnest Against Czechs
Top favourites Serbia made sure their meltdown against France would not happen again and rebounded with a strong 71-54 victory over the Czech Republic at the U20 European Championship for Women.
Two days after blowing a 24-point second half lead to the French, the 2007 runners-up Serbia raced out to a 22-point advantage early in the second quarter and never allowed the Czechs back into the game in improving to 2-1 in Group E in Chieti.
Serbian forward Sonja Petrovic led all scorers with 20 points to go along with 13 rebounds and three blocked shots while Maja Miljkovic chipped in 13 points.
"We really didn't expect to lose against France after leading by over 20 points. So this was a game we needed to win. And I think we improved ourselves," said Petrovic.
"We are still making mistakes and maybe we are not yet in the best shape. So I think our best games are still coming. I hope today is the start of what is coming."
The Czechs, who dropped to 1-2 in the group, were led by 17 points from Katerina Hindrakova. But the Serbs shut down the Czechs' main options as leading scorer Andrea Ovsikova had just five points while Eva Mrhalkova tallied just three and Lenka Siplova hit for just one point.
Marian Svoboda's Czechs struck first in the game on a three-pointer but Serbia answered with a 20-3 run the rest of the first quarter to lead 20-6.
Jovica Antonic's Serbs extended the lead to 28-6 before the Czech Republic finally found their way into the game to pull within 30-16. But Serbia led 40-20 at the break.
The advantage grew to 45-20 only to see the Czechs hold Serbia scoreless for nearly five minutes in reeling off an 11-0 run to make it 45-31. The Serbs remained ahead 53-39 going into the fourth.
Antonic's squad pushed the lead back up to 17 points before the Czechs would eventually make one final push to trim the deficit to 64-54 on an Ovsikova three-pointer with 3:36 remaining. But Petrovic answered with another big basket and Serbia closed the game on a 7-0 spurt.