Miljenovic Lifts Serbia Over Italy, Into Final


Nenad Miljenovic scored 20 points as Serbia came back from a 16-point deficit to beat Italy 67-60 to advance to the final of the U18 European Championship and go for their third title in five years.

Nikola Jankovic and Vasilje Micic both added 11 points for Serbia, who won the U18 titles in 2007 and 2009 as well as 2005 as Serbia & Montenegro.

Italy were missing their top scorer Amedeo Della Valle and were led by 19 points from Matteo Imbro while Amedeo Tessitori collected 11 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks.

Italy were hoping to reach their first final since 1992 - before any of the players on the team were even born - but will now go for bronze and match their 2005 third place.

Serbia started the game totally out of sync - helped out by a tough, aggressive Italian defense - and Imbro started hot, hitting three three-pointers in scoring 12 points as Italy took a 21-5 lead in the first eight minutes. Serbia made just one of their first 10 shots with five turnovers and an unsportsmanlike foul to that point. But Serbia eventually found their way back into the game, trailing 24-12 after one quarter.

Italy twice pushed the margin back to 15 points but the Italian offense stalled a bit and Nemanja Bezbradica and Micic spurned Serbia back to within 33-24 at the break.

The Italians' energy was still up in the second half and they pushed the lead back to 14 points - 46-32. But Serbia came up with an 8-0 run to close the third quarter down only 46-40.

Serbia were forcing turnovers early in the fourth but Tessitori put back an offensive rebound for a 54-51 lead with 5:00 minutes left. Serbia came up with a huge basket by Jankovic - on the fifth shot of the possession to make it 54-53. And Italy did not score for 3:30 minutes as Serbia went ahead 58-54. Matteo Chillo's free throws gave Italy their final lead 59-58 with 1:00 left.

But Stefan Popovski-Turanjanin answered with a huge triple and Miljenovic made six of six free throws in the final 26 seconds to secure the win.

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