Serbia Through, GB Headed Home

09.09.2009

By Jeff Taylor

Game Summary

Turning point: Trailing 39-29 at half time, Great Britain went on a small run early in the third quarter, getting within 41-35 on a made free-throw by Pops Mensah-Bonsu. But Serbia responded immediately with a 17-6 run to end the quarter. Captain Nenad Krstic accounted for the last six points of that spurt to help his team take a commanding 58-44 advantage heading into the final frame where they put the finishing touches.

Hero: Krstic. Serbia's veteran player was inspirational in the win over Spain on Monday but was a non-factor in the loss to Slovenia. He showed why he is the team's leader by bouncing back and providing another leading performance in a decisive game on Wednesday.

Stats: Great Britain committed 27 fouls, which resulted in 35 free-throw attempts for Serbia. That won't please head coach Chris Finch too much as he thought the 30 fouls and 40 free-throws his team conceded to Spain on Tuesday were way too much.

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Serbia clinched the final spot on offer for the Qualifying Round of the EuroBasket from Group C with a clinical 77-59 win over Great Britain.

Nenad Kirstic and Milenko Tepic each poured in 17 points for the Blues, with Nate Reinking scoring a game-high 21 in defeat for Britain.

"With this win we go through to the Qualifying Round with two points and also we have two days to rest and prepare well for our next game," Serbia's Milos Teodosic said.

"We mustn't get too excited because there are more games to come. But we are satisfied with the win."

The Serbs, whose main aim at this event is to claim a top-six finish and reach the FIBA World Championship, didn't have it all their own way against Chris Finch's team.

Leading 39-29 at half-time, Serbia saw their advantage cut to five as the Brits made the first two baskets of the third quarter.

But they weren't able to sustain the comeback.

After Teodosic drilled a jump shot for Serbia, Pops Mensah-Bonsu made just one of two free-throws to make it 41-35.

Dusan Ivkovic's team responded with a 9-2 spurt for a 50-38 lead with 4:29 remaining in the quarter and they were ahead by double digits the rest of the way.

While Britain got Andy Betts back for the contest after he sat out Tuesday's narrow defeat to Spain, they lost promising young forward Joel Freeland to a back injury in the second quarter.

"I want to congratulate Great Britain because they played very well in a tough game," Ivkovic said. "I want to congratulate my players because they dictated the pace of the game for the full 40 minutes."

The Blues only hit four of their 22 shots from long range but 19-of-32 (59%) shooting inside the arc and a 27 of 35 (77%) night at the charity stripe propelled them to victory.

Britain hurt their own cause by missing eight of their 16 free-throws and shot only 42% (18 of 43) inside the arc.

Serbia out-rebounded Britain 37-28

"Serbia's determination and experience were key," Finch said.

"They played as we expected - physically. It bothered us a bit but that's how the game is. We didn't have enough answers tonight."


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