|Serbia point guard Nikola Radicevic led all scorers with 24 points and, most importantly, kept his cool at the free-throw line in the last minute|
By Jared Grellet
Serbia have gone within a win of guaranteeing a spot in the Quarter-Finals at the Samsung U18 European Championship, defeating Italy 78-74 in the final Second Round game in Vilnius on Monday night.
Playing catch-up basketball through the first half, Italy opted to go with a shorter line up in the third quarter.
It was detrimental at first, as Serbia surged ahead on their inside shooting, running out to a 17-point lead going into the last 10 minutes.
However, Italian coach Andrea Capobianco persevered with a shortened five and it began to pay dividends as back-up playmaker Tommaso Laquintana lead his team back with 12 points in six minutes, to have Italy within a point with three minutes remaining.
Laquintana's fourth quarter haul helped him finish the night with 15 points, 12 rebounds and five assists.
However, Italy could not put the finishing touches on their comeback, as Nikola Radicevic provided Serbia's last 10 points to assure they kept their noses in front.
Radicevic ended with a game-high 24 points whilst Nikola Jankovic chipped in with 14.
Luka Andusic and Nikola Cvorovic both had 10 points off the bench.
On Tuesday, Serbia and Italy will both try and inflict their opponents with their first losses as they take on Spain and Lithuania respectively.
Matteo Imbro beats the clock at the end of the third quarter from half-court in the tough loss against Serbia.