Serbia earned their debut win in the OMNITEL U18 European Championship in a Group D clash against arch-rival Croatia with a 65-57 score on a Thursday evening at the Lietuvos Rytas Arena in Vilnius, Lithuania.
An expected hard-nosed game for 35 minutes saw Croatia lose focus and score only 5 points in the closing 5 minutes, dropping the opportunity to stun Serbia who held the lead throughout most of the game.
|Toni Katic had 6 points and 4 rebounds but saw his team go down against neighbours Serbia|
Bogdan Bogdanovic led Serbia with 12 points while Bozo Dumic scored 10 with no less than 4 blocks and Djordje Drenovac scored 10 as well.
For Croatia only one player reached double-digits - Boris Barac with 15 and 7 rebounds.
The Croats didn't have big scorers in this game, but enjoyed a great spread as 9 players were on the board already by the end of the 1st half.
Serbia were the first to escape with a mid-first quarter 8-0 run to take a 17-8 lead led by Dumic and Luka Igrutinovic.
Filip Najev worked around the rim, and carried his team back into the game, and with 2:34 to go in the first half it was already a tied game, 29-29.
Barac pushed it up one more notch and gave Croatia the lead, but Igrutinovic and Nikola Siladi set the half time score on 34-32.
Serbia scored the first 6 points of the 2nd half to open another comfortable lead, but Toni Katic and Barac dominated the later part of the 3rd quarter to keep the gap in reach.
Croatia stayed not too far behind but failed to make a run to change the face of the game.
Inside the last 4 minutes the gap was still only 3, 58-55 after Katic hit another jumper, but no more than few seconds after Drenovac bombed from the perimeter and soon after Bogdanovic pushed the margin back to 8, a figure too big to handle in a defensive oriented game like this one.