Serbia Defeat Russia, Move Closer To Semis

11.07.2007

Reigning champions Serbia used an 11-0 fourth quarter run to beat Russia 71-65 in Group E on Wednesday and move a step closer to reaching the semi-finals of the U20 European Championship Men.

Dragan Labovic scored 16 points, Marko Djurkovic added 13 and Milos Teodosic had 11 points and five assists for Serbia, who improved to 3-1 in the group.

Russia, who were led by 18 points from Alexey Shved, dropped to 3-1 but still have a chance to reach Saturday's semi-finals.

Serbia tried to use their big man advantage early and took the lead 19-14 after 10 minutes. The smaller Russian line-up was able to keep up offensively against the Serb zone defence as Serbia led 41-39 at the break.

Vlada Vukoicic's team were still ahead 51-50 going into the fourth period. The Serb coach, however, decided to use a switching man-to-man defence in the fourth, and it helped the defending champions to open up the game.

Trailing just 55-53 with 7:58 to play, Russia committed four turnovers in a 3:53 stretch in which Serbia scored 11 straight points for a 13-point lead - 66-53 with 4:05 remaining.

Teodosic then missed two free throws, allowing the Russians a chance to come back.

Andrey Maltsev's side held Serbia scoreless for four straight possessions in closing to within 66-61.

But Teodosic scored a driving lay-up with 1:38 left to stop the run. And he hit another driving lay-up with 30 seconds to play for a 71-63 game.

Down 71-65 with 23 seconds left, Maltsev decided against sending Serbia's players to the foul line and attempt to get back in the game.

In Thursday's final Group E matches, Serbia face Lithuania while Russia take on co-hosts Slovenia.

"Just like every game for us in this tournament, tomorrow we play another final. We just want to win and reach our first goal of getting to the semi-finals," said Vukoicic.

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