Serbia overcame Enes Kanter's monster game to beat Turkey 66-61 and book their place in Sunday's final at the U18 European Championship Men 2009 in Metz, France.
Kanter had 32 points and 25 rebounds but the Serbs used some balanced scoring and the strategy paid off as they got one step further than they did in last year's event.
|Enes Kanter had a monster game for Turkey but Dejan Musli's Serbia smiled last|
"I think we played a very well, especially in the second half. We showed great character and now we can focus on the final."
The game was tied at 46 heading into the final quarter and Nikola Rondovic put his team ahead on a hook shot.
Kanter hit a pair of free-throws at the other but Danilo Andjusic then buried a three-pointer and, after Can Mutaf picked up his fourth foul, Nemanja Jamaraz extended the lead to 53-48.
Firat Toz got the Turks within two, 55-53, and the game was once again tied when Kanter scored inside with just under six minutes to go.
The Serbs though replied right away by going on a 7-0 run. Dejan Musli sank a pair of foul shots and had a huge putback dunk for a 59-55 advantage before Branislav Djekic converted a three-point play with 3:54 left to play.
Toz found Yuksel open for a dunk in transition to cut the deficit to 62-59 but Mutaf turned the ball over and fouled out. Andjusic made good on the ensuing free-throws and Turkey could not get any closer than that.
Turkey led 35-32 at the break but Serbia raised their defensive intensity in the third quarter as they held their opponents to just 11 points.
Musli, who finished with 14 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks, made some key plays, swatting Kanter and Safak Edge's shots on the same possession.
Kanter was carrying the scoring load and it worked for a while as Mustafa Derin's side were up by as many as five, 46-41, on the centre's basket with 2-30 left.
But Djekic hit from beyond the arc with 1:15 left in the third period for a 46-44 deficit and Jaramaz hit a pair of free-throws 30 seconds later to tie the score heading into the final frame.
Jamaraz finished with 14 points, Andjusic chipped in with 12 and Djekic had 10.
Turkey scored the game's first five points and led 15-10 on Furkan Aldemir lay-up with 1:30 left. But Jamaraz scored in the closing seconds to get Serbia within three, 15-12, at the end of the period.
Musli gave Serbia their first lead 16-15 early in the second quarter before Safak Edge hit a corner three and Kanter scored four quick points as Turkey went up 22-16 with 7:10 left in the half. And they would lead by as many as seven, 28-21, when Pertev Onguner's wing three-pointer with about five minutes left in the half.
Serbia then used some low-post scoring courtesy of Musli and Djekic to cut the deficit and the game was tied at 30 on Andjusic's free-throw as a result of a Mutaf technical foul.
Musli made a hook shot to edge his team back in front 32-30 with about 50 seconds remaining before the break, but Kanter responded with a three-point play at the other and scored a mid-range jumper in the closing seconds to give Turkey a three-point cushion, 35-32.