Bulgaria lost for the second time this week on Saturday at home to EuroBasket qualifying Group A winners Serbia to fall to 4-4, but they still earned a trip to next year's final round in Poland.
Pini Gershon's team finished second ahead of Italy, who were also 4-4 but had a worse overall goal coefficient in the group than the Bulgarians.
They advanced to Poland next year as one of Division A's three best second-place teams.
Nenad Krstic had 17 points and nine rebounds for Serbia, while Ibrahim Jaaber scored 27 for Bulgaria.
Serbia, who clinched their passage to Poland with a victory in midweek at home over Finland, won for the seventh time in eight qualifying games.
They stormed into a 26-16 lead by the end of the opening quarter and extended that to 49-30 by half-time.
Dusan Ivkovic's Blues went even further ahead in the fourth quarter at 80-56 with just under six minutes remaining.
But Bulgaria eased fears they could be about to blow their huge goal differential advantage to Italy by outscoring the Serbians 25-14 in the frame.
Dushan Ivkovic, head coach of Serbia:
It was very good game for my team. The team is very young, we reached our short target. The team has a very big future. Our target is to play good basketball and to play at the London 2012 Olympics. I congratulate my players for the first place in the group. We controlled the game even when at the first half two of our best players were injured. We were balanced in the entire game. I want to congratulate Bulgaria, and Mr. Pini Gershon for re-invigorating Bulgarian basketball. When I started playing basketball we learned a lot of Bulgarians such Mirchev, Panovi, Radev, Academik Sofia. We did great job for these 80 days of the preparation. All the players were very professional and serious.
Zoran Erceg, player of Serbia:
We showed we didn't come here to lose. That we have moral and pride. We played very well especially the first three quarters. We made our point and we are first in the group and will go to Eurobasket 2009.
Pini Gershon, head coach of Bulgaria:
If I was asked two months ago, I wouldn't believe this is going to happen. This is like a dream coming true. Nobody likes to be second, but we are second after the best team. The Serbians are a wonderful team, very good players, great coach, who is a legend. We had a lot of problems, we played without Filip (Videnov). But we did it. There weren't a lot of teams who won games away, so we have to be very content. The difficult time starts now. I hope I will be here next summer too. I was near to turn down in tears. This result is a win for us, we did the great job. Thank to all the people around me, the Bulgarian journalists, the federation, my staff, my players.
Todor Stoykov, captain of Bulgaria:
The Serbians played their best. We were very embarrassed. I didn't believe that Israel can win with such a difference. We showed temper and great spirit and we succeeded to turn back in the game. We tried to win, but it is not possible every time. It is all over now, we are going where our place is. We deserved it, we have great coach.