By Jared Grellet
|Doko Salic stepped up for Serbia when his team needed him the most, scoring 15 points and pulling down 6 rebounds|
Turning Point: Serbia ended the third quarter on an 8-1 run to turn a tied ball game into a seven point advantage going into the final frame.
Game Hero: Stefan Pot with 21 points took over scoring from an injured Nikola Jankovic.
Stats Don't Lie: Serbia went three-for-three from outside the perimeter in the final quarter to sink the Russians.
Stefan Pot has scored 21 points to secure Serbia a 66-56 win over Russia and the bronze medal at the Samsung U18 European Championship.
After having a minimal impact during the first two rounds, Pot came to the fore in his team's quarter-final win over Bulgaria and was again leading from the front on Sunday, going six-for-11 from the floor as Serbia had to manage without playmaker Nikola Radicevic who failed to take to the floor and their star player Nikola Jankovic who was forced to watch most of the game from the bench after injuring his ankle early on.
In a high-intensity beginning to the game neither team was giving an inch with both sides shooting at over 55% from the field. Early signs were that the game was going to be decided from inside the paint as predicted, with no points coming from beyond the perimeter.
Serbia captain Jankovic limped from the court with less than seven minutes gone but the Serbs were still able to keep the game tied at 20 at the end of the frame without their power forward.
Jankovic was back on the court in the second quarter but evidently far from 100% and lacking the confidence to drive to the basket. Instead it was Doko Salic doing the work inside with his 10 points in the half enough to put Serbia in front by two, 35-33, at half-time.
With the teams continuing to trade points through the opening plays of the third quarter, Mihajlo Andric created the first significant break of the night, sinking a three to spur an 8-1 run to have Serbia up by seven points, 52-45, going into the last 10 minutes.
Pot was hammering the nails into the Russian coffin in the final frame, stepping outside the perimeter for the first time all night, going two-for-two with the second giving Serbia a 15-point lead, 66-51 with just under three minutes remaining.
Igor Kanygin topped scoring for Russia 12 points whilst Mikhail Kulagin had an 11-point, 11-rebound double-double.
Point guard Mikhail Kulagin finds Igor Kanygin after a pick and roll and the big man surprises the Serbian defense with a nice dunk.