By Adriana Garcia Senchermes
Turning Point: With Lithuania leading 75-71 with 4:29 to go, Serbia buried four consecutive three-pointers to lead 83-75 and take command.
Hero: Serbia guard Milos Teodosic nailed two of those crucial three pointers and led his team in scoring with 20 points while also handing out 12 assists.
Stats: Serbia nailed six three-pointers in the last four minutes of the game and finished an eye-popping 14 of 27 (52%) from long range. Lithuania turned the ball over 20 times.
Lithuania put up a huge fight but it wasn't enough to beat Milos Teodosic and Serbia who won their Qualifying Round Group F clash in Lodz, 89-79.
The result sealed third place for Dusan Ivkovic's men and set up a Quarter-Final showdown with Russia in Katowice.
With Lithuania leading 75-71 with 4:29 to go, Serbia buried four consecutive three-pointers to lead 83-75 and take command for good.
|Milos Teodosic hit a couple of big three-pointers for Serbia down the stretch. |
Serbia guard Milos Teodosic nailed two of those crucial three-pointers and led his team in scoring with 20 points while also handing out 12 assists.
Immediately after the game, Lithuania coach Ramunas Butautas announced in his press conference that he had resigned.
Butautas, with more experienced players in the squad the previous two summers like Sarunas Jasikevicius and Ramunas Siskauskas, captured a bronze medal at EuroBasket 2007 and reached the Semi-Finals at last year's Olympics.
This year, however, Lithuania lost their opening Group D games to Turkey and Poland before defeating Bulgaria.
They crashed to heavy losses in the Qualifying Round to Slovenia, Spain and slipped up against Serbia on Wednesday.
"We controlled the game but they played patiently and killed us with late three-pointers," Butautas said.
"We go home. We played badly and we only won one game.
"I must leave this team now and I wish them all the best."
The architect of their demise in Butautas' final game was Teodosic.
"Teodosic has been a great performer for us in this tournament," said Serbia guard Milenko Tepic, who contributed 13 points.
"We hope he can continue to play like this in our next games."
There was little Lithuania could do with Serbia nailing six three-pointers in the last four minutes of the game and finishing an eye-popping 14 of 27 (52%) from long range.
Lithuania were without injured duo Mantas Kalnietis and Simas Jasaitis for their final game but the Baltic nation saved their best performance for last and made Serbia worked hard for the victory.
The Baltic men led by as many as seven points but weren't able to pull away.
"It was a very tough game," admitted Tepic.
"Lithuania is a very good side and it's a shame they haven't done well in this tournament."
The victory will be a big morale boost for Serbia in view of Thursday's showdown.
"Maybe the most important part in our game was that we scored many easy points and 24 assists," said Ivkovic.
"That kind of team basketball is what we need.
"I congratulate my players who played a great game."
"Now we prepare for Russia."
Lithuania made 11 of their 20 turnovers in the first half but trailed 41-37.
Inspired by their loyal fans, the Lithuanians went on a 15-5 run over the next four minutes, with Jonas Maciulis scoring seven points in that surge, to take a 52-46 lead.
Nenad Krstic made sure his team got back in the game scoring eight of his team's next 15 points to tie the contest 61-61 with one minute to go in the quarter.
Serbia scored five unanswered points but Darius Lavrinovic and Marijonas Petrovicius but Lithuania in front at 75-71 with 4:29 remaining.
Jonas Maciulis led the Baltic nation in scoring with 20 while Ksistof Lavrinovic contributed with 12 and made four of his team's 10 steals.
Having made just two of nine (22%) shooting from three-point range at the break, Lithuania finished a respectable six of 18 (33%).
Lithuania were 13 of 20 (65%) from the free-throw line while Serbia converted 19 of 26 (73%) from the charity stripe.