by Dan Casey
|Doko Salic throws one down for Serbia. The big man contributed 11 points to a balanced Serbia attack|
Serbia held off Greece in a thrilling finale and kept their chances of progressing to the Quarter-Finals alive with an 82-74 win.
Serbia profited inside, forcing Greece big man Georgios Diamantakos into foul trouble and shooting 47% to their opponents 41%.
Coach Sasa Nikitovic saw room from improvement, but was happy with his team's clutch shooting: "We made shots at the right time, and Nikola Rebic and Doko Salic did the right things at the crucial moments."
The game was tied at 72-72 before Salic drew a foul and calmly knocked down both free throws. Georgis Papdionysioy tied the game up with two free throws, but Rebic drained a three-pointer with 1:00 remaining to put Serbia 77-74 ahead.After two misses from Greece, Dorde Kaplanovic hit his first free throw and Salic collected the missed second shot to seal the victory.
The result was cruel on Greece who are now eliminated from the race to the Quarter-Finals.
Papadionysioy, Alexandros Spyridonidis, Konstantinos Kefalas and Anastasios Spyropoulos all hit big shots for the Greek team in a tense, high-quality fourth quarter, but ultimately the Serbian firepower was stronger.
Earlier in the game, Serbia initially broke clear with a 7-0 run in the second quarter, but Michail Liapis scored at the half-time buzzer to reduce Greece's deficit to 9 points, 42-33.
Greece then scored the first six points of the second half, and later Vasileios Charalampopoulos beat the third-quarter buzzer to make the score 59-56, a three-point lead to Serbia. Spyridonidis hit another buzzer-beater, this time for 3 points, to give Greece the lead early in the fourth quarter and set up the dramatic ending.
Brano Djukanovic joined Rebic as Serbia top-scorer with 16 points. Kaplanovic also contributed 11 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocked shots.
Greece were led by 18 points and 4 steals from Liapis, and Papadionysioy added 13 points and 7 assists.