|21 July 2012|
Serbia and Lithuania, two European basketball powerhouses with a rich history of match-ups between them, meet in the first semi-final of the U20 European Championship 2012 in Slovenia.
Serbia has been inn cruising mode and they are the only team in the tournament yet to taste defeat after seven games, despite a stern test against a stubborn Latvia side in the quarter-finals.
Lithuania, on the other hand, who has had its fair share of ups and downs in its previous games, had no problems against Greece in the quarter-final, recording a resounding 79-43 victory.
|Dovydas Redikas' participation in the semi-final could prove vital for Lithuania|
The Serbians have been nothing short of impressive, leading the tournament in scoring (79.4) and points allowed (61.9), while Lithuania ranks second in points scored (79.3) and sixth in points allowed with 67.6 per game.
The Baltic side has been sharing the ball well and is the top team in assists with 14.7 per game, while Serbia are dishing out 12.3 per game and they rank eighth overall.
Nenad Miljenovic has been coming off the bench for Serbia, but has been a vital part of the team's success, averaging 13.0 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game.
It is difficult to find a weak spot in the Serbian team's deep roster - they seem to have it all in point guards Aleksandar Cvetkovic and Miljenovic, the wing scorer Bogdan Bogdanovic and the powerful big men in Luka Mitrovic, Stefan Nastic and Nemanja Besovic.
Lithuania's small forward Edgaras Ulanovas has emerged as the leading scorer for the team with an average of 16.3 points per game on 65.4% shooting from the three-point line, and also adding 5.1 rebounds.
The team's coach Kazys Maksvytis should be happy with the play of point guard Vytenis Cizauskas, who has been quite impressive, averaging 13.0 points, 6.1 rebounds and 4.0 rebounds.
However, the biggest question for Lithuania is whether Dovydas Redikas, who is leading the tournament in steals with 2.7 a game, will be able to play in the semi-final after missing the quarter-final game against Greece because of a concussion suffered in the last game of the Second Round.
This generation of Serbian and Lithuanian players have met in the U18 European Championship semi-final in 2010 and the final of the FIBA U19 World Championship in 2011, with Lithuania taking victory both times - although one should add that those Lithuanian outfits included the mighty presence of Jonas Valanciunas.