Turning point: Bogdan Bogdanovic missed a go-ahead free-throw with a 49 seconds left on the clock and then committed a foul on Vytenis Cizauskas, who converted both shots from the stripe to give Lithuania what proved a decisive 69-67 lead.
Game Hero: Cizauskas was the key to Lithuania's victory. He scored 13 points, grabbed 5 rebounds and dished out 7 assists. But the statistics line doesn't tell the full story, as whenever the point guard sat on the bench, the Serbian team would make a run and close the deficit.
Stats Don't Lie: Lithuania finished with 20 assists against Serbia's 10.
Lithuania advanced to the U20 European Championship final after edging Serbia 73-68 in a thrilling semi-final game in Domzale Arena in Ljubljana.
|Vytenis Cizauskas was once again an influential figure in Lithuania's victory|
With both teams playing point for point, Lithuania were the first to break away by more than two points after Dovydas Redikas hit a three-pointer and Vytenis Cizauskas added two more for a 21-15 lead.
However, it didn't take long for Serbia to close the gap and take back the lead at 24-23 with Stefan Nastic providing extra energy off the bench and Marko Gujancic also playing well.
Just before the break, Zygimantas Skucas scored 8 points in a 10-2 run for Lithuania to close the second quarter and give the Baltic team a 37-30 advantage.
Arnas Butkevicius started the second half with an and-one play to push the lead to double digits at 40-30, but Ivan Marinkovic and Aleksandar Cvetkovic brought Serbia back to retake the lead at 51-50.
Nenad Miljenovic hit a three-pointer to give Serbia a 62-61 lead and Aleksandar Cvetkovic added two more points.
However, Edgaras Ulanovas nailed two free-throws and Cizauskas scored from under the basket after a smooth up-and-under to send Lithuania back in front (65-64).
Bogdan Bogdanovic's two free-throws gave Serbia a one-point edge, but Ulanovas answered with a basket of his own.
With the score at 67-66 in favour of Lithuania, Bogdanovic split a pair of free-throws and then committed a foul fighting for the rebound.
Cizauskas made both free-throws and after Lithuania got a stop on the defensive end Serbia was left to play catch-up. He and Ulanovas kept their cool from the charity stripe to rubber stamp the Lithuanian victory.
"We had a solid performance, but the players were under pressure because of the importance of the game and allowed the lead to slip away in the second half," said the Lithuania Kazys Maksvytis.
"We were leading the game most of the time and it's great to taste victory."
Skucas scored 14 points and added 5 rebounds, Cizauskas finished with 13 points, 5 rebounds and 7 assists, while Ulanovas finished the game with 11 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists.
"The game could've gone either way. We played against this team in the U18 European Championship semi-final, where we won by a single point," said Cizauskas.
"They were undefeated this year and the difference turned out to be very slim this time too."
For Serbia, Bogdanovic had 16 points and 7 boards, but also turned the ball over 7 times, while Cvetkovic chipped in with 15 points and 4 assists.