By David Hein
Miro Bilan and Bojan Bogdanovic combined for 46 points as Croatia held off Serbia 82-74 to capture second place in Group D of the U20 European Championship.
Bilan had 24 points and nine rebounds while Bogdanovic collected 22 points, five rebounds, seven assists and three steals for Croatia who finished the preliminary round with a 2-1 record.
Karlo Vragovic added 15 points for Darko Kunce's team, which won despite losing the rebounding battle 41-27.
Stefan Stojacic and paced Serbia with 16 points and Aleksandar Mitrovic added 10 points for Slobodan Klipa's team, which also advanced to the qualifying round with a 1-2 record.
The first quarter was a tight affair throughout with Bogdanovic and Bilan helping Croatia build a five-point lead just before the end of the first quarter, which ended with Serbia trailing 19-16.
Kunce's team extended the lead to 25-16 with the first six points of the second quarter before Mitrovic's three-ball brought Serbia within 29-28. Antonio Ostric's triple pushed the cushion back to four only to see Klipa's Serbs go on a 17-7 surge to finish the first half up 45-39.
Croatia came out of the locker room like gang busters especially Bilan, who scored nine points in a 14-3 run to start the second half for a 55-48 Croatia lead. Bilan hit four more points in building the advantage to 62-53.
Serbia refused to roll over as Stojacic converted a three-point play to bring Serbia within 62-58 after three periods.
Croatia increased the margin to 69-60 before Stojacic hit three straight baskets to trim the gap to 73-68. Bogdanovic however nailed a three-ball and Vragovic converted six foul shots to ice the game.
Germans Score Consolation Win
Philipp Schwethelm and Thomas Schoeps combined for 35 points in helping Germany secure their first victory in Group D of the U20 European Championship, winning 75-62 over Ukraine.
German coach Henrik Rodl did not play three of his starters as the team had already been condemned to the relegation round while Ukraine had already secured top honors in the group.
Schwethelm hit four three-pointers in scoring 18 points and Schoeps also made four long balls for 17 points. Maurice Stuckey added 11 points and Andreas Seiferth chipped in 10 points.
Ukraine dropped to 2-1 despite 15 points from Stanislav Tymofeyenko while Denys Lukashov had 13 points and Olexiy Shchepkin added 10 points.
Germany jumped ahead 13-3 only to see Tymofeyenko heat up from outside with three triples. Schwethelm hit two of his own from long range as Germany led 22-21 after one period.
Ruslan Otverchenko, Roman Dmytrenko and Tymofeyenko all hit from outside and Ukraine pulled ahead 38-32. But Germany answered with a 13-2 surge to finish the first half up 45-40.
The Ukrainians cut the deficit to 49-47 before Germany again went on a big run, 15-2 to lead 64-59 after three quarters. And Ukraine would not get closer than 13 points in the final period.