by Yarone Arbel
A huge comeback by Serbia finished the opening day of Group E in the U16 European Championship as the Serbs beat Lithuania 76-74 at Osnovna Skola Jugoslavija in Bar, Montenegro on Monday night.
Serbia now hold a 2-1 record in the group while Lithuania missed a great chance to take tie records with their opponent and dropped to 0-3 at the bottom of the group.
The result also mean that Croatia and France secured their spot in the quarter-finals already thanks to their perfect record and three wins gap from the fifth spot.
A few days ago, in the OMNITEL U18 European Championship, Serbia and Lithuania met in the semi-finals and the later deleted a 13 point gap in the last 6:30 minutes to win the game in a huge upset.
Today, on a smaller stage, Serbia revenged with the same coin by scoring 22 points in the closing 5:30 minutes and turned a 54-66 difference to a 76-74 win.
Vasilje Micic had 19 and five assists, five rebounds and five turnovers for Serbia, Nikola Jankovic added 18 points, nine rebounds, four steals and two blocks while Stefan Zorbas had 14.
Tomas Dimsa led Lithuania with 21 points and three steals, Marius Grigonis added 12 while Augustinas Jankaitis had 10.
Micic scored the first three pointer of the game, but saw Grigonis answer with twice the damage to give Lithuania a 7-14 lead after five minutes.
Dimsa stepped up with four points in a row to extend the lead and set it on 11-22 but Serbia had Zorbas to give the same quantity only to see Lithuania insist on their gap, and finish the first quarter leading 15-26.
Jankovic stepped up and scored his first six points in the first two minutes of the second quarter, and Zorbas added a jumper to cap eight points in a row for Serbia, but it still wasn't enough.
Dimsa and Grigonis carried their team back up and a jumper of Simas Raupys right before the half time break made it 33-42 after 20 minutes.
Micic carried his team back to just three points behind towards at the buzzer of the third, but Lithuania had answers ready.
Dimas connected back-to-back three point plays with the bonus from the charity stripe, to push the gap back up, and inside the last 5:30 minutes Lithuania was still up by 12.
Jankovic, Micic and Zorbas needed a bit more than two minutes to score 10 points in a row and make it a totally open game, but Dimsa made one last effort by Lithuania to create a 65-70 yet Zorbas hit a three pointer and soon it was a 70-70 tie with 94 seconds to play.
Jankaitis and Jankovic scored on each side, before Micic finally put his team on top, only to see Dimsa miss at the other end already in the last 10 seconds and Dusan Ristic hit twice from the foul line to put Lithuania in trouble.
Dimsa did the same to cut it back to one but time ran out as Jankovic set the final score with one more extra point.