Jelena Milovanovic and Serbia caused a big upset on Day 4
By Joe Hewison
Turning Point: In the closing minutes of the third quarter Serbia hit four consecutive three-pointers to take the first double-digit lead of the game.
Stats Don't Lie: Only three players, Tamara Radocaj, Milica Dabovic and Ana Dabovic, had scored for Serbia until the 26th minute of play, as Serbia executed their low-scoring gameplan to perfection.
Game Hero: Ana Dabovic made a contribution in all areas with 13 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals - but more importantly she set the tone and tempo for her team.
Serbia beat Belarus 54-48 because they followed their coach's instructions to the letter, according to star forward Jelena Milovanovic.
Belarus were limited to just 19 first-half points by Serbia's slow tempo before four consecutive three-pointers, two from Milovanovic and two from Jovana Rad, allowed the Serbs to build a double digit heading into the final period.
But Milovanovic revealed it was rebounds rather than long-range shooting, that Head Coach Marina Maljkovic felt would be the reason for victory.
"We had a really good game tonight and we fought from the first to the last minute," said Milovanovic, who finished with six boards.
"We did exactly what our coach asked from us. We won the rebounds. She said that if we win on the rebounds then we are going to win the game, and we won that battle by five [36-31].
"One of their players had 16, out of 12 players, we couldn't stop [Yelena] Leuchanka from rebounding but we did stop her scoring because we did really well in defence.
"We got some open shots, we passed the ball a lot and we made our open shots. It was a good day and I hope we continue like this."
Serbia set their stall out early as the Dabovic sisters, Ana and Milica, made several hustle plays and got some easy points on the board thanks to their high-intensity defence.
Both finished with 13 points but their presence was felt in categories across the board as well as those that don't show up in the statistics.
Belarus bit back in the fourth quarter but had left themselves too much to do and even Leuchanka's heroic effort on the boards, coupled with 12 points would not be enough.
But Head Coach Rimantas Grigas insists they will bounce back.
He said: "We lost almost all the key components in the game, rebounds, shots and we had a lot of turnovers.
"That is why we deserve that we lost. We didn't play as well in defence as we knew we can. We made a lot of mistakes."