Serbia Hand Montenegro First Loss

06 August 2008

Serbia is back in the race to the semi-finals after a big 75-70 win over Montenegro in the first game of Group F on the fifth day.

This was the first loss of Montenegro in the competition as both teams are now tied with a 3-1 record.

Serbia was up for most of the game, but allowed their rivals to complete a comeback with a one point lead entering the last two minutes, but that wasn't enough.

Vladimir Dasic (Montenegro)
Dasic had another big game for Montenegro, but it was not enough.
Eight of eight from the line in the deciding minutes made the difference for Serbia, despite not hitting a field goal in the last nine minutes of the game.

Miroslav Raduljica scored 23 points already in the first three quarters but finished with 25 and 11 rebounds. Marko Keselj shinned in a great game with 23 points and nine rebounds.

Vladimir Dasic had a great start and eventually finished with 25 points and seven rebounds. Nemanja Vranjes added 18 with five three pointers, one more than the entire Serbian team.

"It was a difficult game for us because they are a good team who didn't lose until now," said Keselj after the win.

"We know these guys very well so it was easier in a way to be ready for them, but in the end we were maybe a little bit luckier."

Dasic was all over the court right from tip off. He scored 12 of Montenegro's first 14 points, and finished the first quarter with 15, when Serbia held a 26-23 lead.

Serbia presented Keselj and Raduljica who combined inside and outside force to match up with Dasic, but once their former team-mate cooled down, they had the chance to take an 11 point lead, and finish the half up 43-35.

Montenegro wasn't about to give up, and pulled out some new tools. Dasic added four points in the paint, and also got a hand from Milos Durisic, but it still wasn't enough to shake the Serbian boat.

Raduljica was unstoppable in the paint, reaching 25 points before the end of the third, as Serbia climbed to 60-47 lead before the fourth quarter.

The gap remained in the double-digit area until Igor Bijeic hit a big three pointer to make it 65-59 and force a Serbian time out.

The margin was cut already to three, but Montenegro failed to convert time after time.

Dasic decided to step up and with a big block on defense and a greater rebound on offense kept the momentum going.

Only after Vranjes hit a big three to turn it 68-67 for his team, Serbia broke their six minutes droughts and took the lead back with two minutes to play.

With a minute on the clock Dasic fouled out leaving his team to handle the pressure without their target player.

Vranjes took a bad long range shots and Dusan Katnic continued the Serbian march to the line that stopped only with the win.

Serbia will take on hosting team Latvia in the last day of this round, as Montenegro will face France in a key match for the top two spots in the group.

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