In what could very well be a preview of Sunday's final, Lithuania and Serbia & Montenegro met on Wednesday at the ACI Trading Ltd U20 European Championship in Chekov.
Both sides were unbeaten going into the contest, but it was Lithuania who managed to keep their 100% record intact, defeating Serbia & Montenegro 62-67 in a tightly contested game.
Lithuania have destroyed most of their opponents at this tournament in the first quarter and they made an early rally against Serbia & Montenegro, leading 12-19 after 12 minutes.
But Serbia & Montenegro were never going to be pushovers and a 10-0 run clearly stated their intentions, giving them the lead 22-19.
|Luka Bogdanovic |
Luka Bogdnanvic has established himself as one of the most exciting prospects in the competition and he was in scintillating form all night for Serbia & Montenegro.
He scored 23 of his 27 points in the opening 3 quarters to keep Serbia & Montenegro in contention and with just over 11 minutes remaining the score was tied at 44-44.
Lithuania made another attempt to break the game open in the final period, opening up an 8-point gap, 48-56. But they were unable to shake off their opponents and a Bodganovic jump shot tied the scores at 62-62 with 90 seconds on the clock.
2 free throws for Rolandas Alijevas gave Lithuania a 2-point advantage and the 192 cm guard was able to come up with the play of the game on the next possession.
Tough defense has been a hallmark of the Lithuanian side at this event, and it was Alijevas' steal and coast-to-coast lay-up which sealed victory for his team.
Serbia & Montenegro had one 21 seconds to attempt to overcome the 4-point deficit, but Ratkovica's three-point shot fell short and Lithuania held on for the win.
Bogdnaovic finished with a game high 27 points for Serbia & Montenegro.
Arturas Jomantas topped Lithuania with 23 points and 7 rebounds, while Renaldas Seibutis added 21.