Dragan Labovic and Milos Teodosic combined for 50 points as reigning champions Serbia outlasted a resilent France side 96-81 on Sunday, securing second place in Group A of the U20 European Championship Men.
The game was closer than the final score indicated. France were trailing just 81-76 with 2:27 remaining but Serbia used a 12-2 late run to pull away.
Vlada Vukoicic's Serbs, who finished Group A with a 2-1 record, led by 16 points - 68-52 - with 2:46 in the third before the French went on a 21-7 run to play within 75-73 on Judith Marc's dunk with 4:58 left in the game.
Nikola Dragovic sandwiched three-pointers around an Aurelien Salmon free throw for an 81-74 bulge with 3:27 to play.
|Milos Teodosic was one of Serbia's key men against France|
That was Dragovic's strongest phase of the game, but it was Labovic and Teodosic who controlled much of the game for Serbia. Each scored 12 points in leading the Serbs to a 26-20 first quarter lead.
Labovic finished the first half with 23 points and Teodosic had 17 points and five assists with Serbia going to the locker-room with a 50-44 advantage. Nando De Colo did everything he could against the Serb attack, scoring 22 of his 31 points in the first half.
The start of the second half belonged to Serbia, who saw Dragovic and Vladimir Stamic combine for 12 straight Serbian points in a 14-2 run out of the break - and a 64-48 lead.
Aaron Cel scored seven of his eight points in the French push spanning the third and fourth quarters.
But Cel and Aldo Curti both missed three-pointers in the final 1:14 of the game, allowing the Serbs to eventually pull away for good down the stretch.
Labovic ended with 31 points and six rebounds while Teodosic had 19 points and 10 assists for Serbia. Dragovic chipped in 15 and Marko Djurkovic had 14 points and nine rebounds.
Marc added 11 points for the French, who finished 1-2 for third place in the group.
Serbia and France will be joined in the Qualifying Round by co-hosts Slovenia.
The co-hosts Slovenia finished off their Group A stage undefeated in three games after a comfortable 69-56 victory over Hungary.
The game was played in the Italian co-hosting city Gorizia while the Italians played on Sunday in Nova Gorica in Slovenia.
Gasper Vidmar led the way for Slovenia with 19 points and nine rebounds while Emir Preldzic added 15 points.
Hungary, who were led by 14 points from Kornel Kiss, lost all three games in their group and face relegation to Division B in the Classification Games.
Slovenia led 21-17 after 10 minutes and 37-24 at half-time. The co-hosts turned up the offensive machine in the third period, leading 62-38 going into the fourth.