Turning Point: Italy had finally gotten the deficit to eight points at 62-54 when Nenad Krstic's big basket was followed by back-to-back three-pointers by Nikola Kalinic and Stefan Markovic to re-establish a 16-point lead - 70-54 - with three minutes left.
Game Hero: Serbian big man Nenad Krstic proved too much inside as he picked up 17 points and four rebounds.
Stats Don't Lie: Serbia shot 50% from the field while holding Italy to just 35.7%. The Serbs also out-rebounded the Italians 42-26.
|Nemanja Nedovic once again reassured Serbian fans that the future of Serbian basketball is in good hands with another solid performance to secure his team a spot at next year's FIBA World Cup|
Serbia finished their EuroBasket 2013 campaign on a high note by beating Italy 76-64 to capture seventh place in the tournament while also securing a spot at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Serbia had lost their quarter-final showdown against Spain and then lost their 5-8 Classification Round showdown with Slovenia before finishing the tournament with a 6-5 record.
Nenad Krstic scored 17 points while Nemanja Bjelica collected 12 points, 10 rebounds and four assists and Nemanja Nedovic and Stefan Markovic both chipped in 12 points for the Serbs.
"It was very important to qualify for the World Cup. I hope this young team will stay together for many, many more years. And I hope that coach stays with us for many years. We have a bright future," said Nedovic.
"[Serbia] showed a big future. Do not forget, we beat finalists Lithuania and France. It means that like everyone knows Serbia is a basketball country," said Serbia coach Dusan Ivkovic.
Italy were left to deal with losing their third straight game to close the tournament outside of World Cup qualification.
"We have to be proud of ourselves and keep this baggage of experience for future appointments," said Italy's Luigi Datome, who led Italy with 19 points.
"We finished this tournament with more wins than losses at 6-5. That is amazing when you think about all the big teams we faced - Russia, Turkey, Greece, Slovenia, Croatia, Spain, Lithuania, Serbia. Only France no," said Italian coach Simone Pianigiani.
"It was a really big experience for my team."
Alessandro Gentile had 14 points and Andrea Cinciarini added 11 points for Italy.
The Italians struggled early on as Serbia jumped ahead 12-5 with three-balls from Nedovic and Bjelica. The gap was 15-10 when Serbia closed the first quarter on a 12-1 run to lead 27-11 after 10 minutes.
The Serbian advantage grew to 19 points - 30-11 - when Italy were finally able to work their offensive game. Italia closed the margin to 32-23 with a 12-2 surge. Serbia punched right back and the cushion was 41-27 at the break.
Italy would not give up with Belinelli and Datome knocking down triples and twice reducing the deficit to nine points. The Serbian answer came from Nedovic in the form of two long balls and Markovic also nailed a three-pointer to push the lead back to 13 points. The Serbs led 55-44 after three quarters.
Vladimir Stimac came off the bench for Serbia's first five points of the fourth quarter and a 60-47 Serbia lead.
Italy gave one final push and finally got to within eight points - 62-54. But Krstic scored a big bucket and Nikola Kalinic and Markovic nailed back-to-back triples to bring the margin back to 70-54 and end Italy's hopes for good.