|16 July 2013|
|Ivan Marinkovic and Serbia are on a good way to stay in Division A, improving to 2-0 in the classification round |
Serbia hold all the cards in the race to stay clear of the relegation round at the Sportland U20 European Championship, after Day 2 results in Group G of the Classification Round for 13th to 20th place.
The Balkan side defeated Israel on Tuesday and will avoid playing in the dreaded Classification Round for 16th to 20th place if they beat Ukraine on Wednesday, or if Israel lose to the Czechs.
In case Serbia lose on Wednesday and Israel win, the Serbians will still stay afloat in the three-way tie that will occur if the margin of their loss to Ukraine is not bigger than seven points.
Even the Czech Republic however, who are bottom of the group with no wins to their name, can still hope to avoid the relegation round.
The Czechs can force a three-way tie with Israel and Ukraine at 1-2 if they defeat Israel on Wednesday and Ukraine lose to Serbia.
On Tuesday, Serbia gained some breathing space from Israel in the second quarter and ultimately, that slim cushion proved decisive in them clinching a precious 66-62 win, as the Israelis were always close but never managed to level the encounter again.
After Israel scored the first basket in the second period to tie the scores at 18, the Serbians reeled eight unanswered points and reached the half-time interval leading 36-28.
Israel threw everything at Serbia when play resumed to claw their way back, and they reduced the gap to one point, 50-49, on a Ben Altit dunk with 8:24 remaining in the final frame.
But Luka Mitrovic, Nenad Miljenovic and Mladen Dordevic scored on consecutive possessions to restore an 8-point lead for Serbia, 57-49, with 5:31 remaining to the final buzzer.
Rafael Menco gave a glimpse of last hope to Israel when he reduced to 65-62 with a lay-up 10 seconds from time, but Andric split two free throws two seconds later to make it again a two-possession gap and write the final score.
Ivan Marinkovic paved the way for Serbia with a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds while Miljenovic and Mitrovic chipped in with 11 points each, the latter also adding nine boards.
Israel's Egor Koulechov finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds in defeat.
In the other game of Group G on Tuesday, five Ukraine players were already in double digits in the third quarter as their side clinched an 89-83 triumph over the Czech Republic.
|Vladyslav Koreniuk led Ukraine with 22 points, adding 6 rebounds and 2 assists |
Ukraine started off in imperious form, as they scored the first 16 points in the encounter and held a 56-41 lead at the half-time interval.
They controlled the battle on the glass and shot above 60 percent from two-point range to extend their lead to 23 points, 78-55, inside the final minute of the third quarter.
It was then when the Czechs unexpectedly sprung into life.
They reacted with a fast 8-0 run at the start of the fourth frame and kept on pushing until the final buzzer, outscoring Ukraine 26-9 in the period, but they simply ran out of time and could not come any closer than six points.
Big man Vladyslav Koreniuk finished with a team-high 22 points for Ukraine and added six boards and two assists, Anatoliy Shundel had 21 points and seven rebounds and Klym Artamonov contributed 18 points and a game-high nine assists.
Martin Kríz led all scorers with 25 points and added five rebounds and four assists for the Czech Republic in a losing effort.