|Marko Tejic led a balanced Serbian offence with 16 points|
Turning Point: Serbia were leading 39-36 after a quite tight first half, which mainly consisted of alternating runs, and the two teams were basically trading baskets until Marko Tejic drilled a three-pointer, with 2:59 remaining in the third, to give Serbia the first double-digit lead in the game, 55-44. Croatia misfired on the other end and Nikola Rebic earned a foul and sunk both free throws. After Croatia missed one more three-point attempt, Rebic again split the Croatian defence and finished at the rim to give Serbia a 59-44 lead with 1:08 left to the third buzzer.
Game Hero: Rebic came off the bench and decided to prolong his stay by delivering the performance of a more mature point guard. He conducted the Serbian offence with inventiveness and a cool mind, selecting the right option against the Croatian zone defence on most occasions. He finished with 10 points on four-for-nine from the field and added six rebounds, four assists and one steal.
Stats Don't Lie: Five Serbia players scored in double digits and the winners got an eye-catching 30 points from their bench players. Serbia also got 15 points off turnovers as Croatia turned the ball over 16 times.
Serbia pulled away from neighbours Croatia in the second half of the bronze medal game at the U20 European Championship on Crete to return to the podium of the competition after six years.
In a game that came at the end of a physically taxing two-week long tournament, Serbia had the fresh legs and Croatia ran out of fuel shortly after the half-time break.
While Serbia used a nine-man rotation and Croatia used their entire squad towards the end of the clash, every Serbian player who stepped on the floor wrote his name on the scoreboard and contributed his grain of salt towards the victory.
Croatia started on a 2-3 zone defence that produced results early on, by denying the Serbian big men their comfort zone in the low post.
Serbia adjusted rapidly though and used their inside-out passing to find success from long range.
The two teams alternated runs as they shot solidly from any position (Serbia 4-for-10, Croatia 5-for-13 from three in the first half) and neither led by more than five points in the first 20 minutes.
Increasingly though, and despite the fact they continued to stretch the floor as superbly as they had done from the first day of this tournament, Croatia had to attempt more and more contested shots, while Serbia appeared more at ease in finding the open man.
When Serbia gained some distance midway through the third frame, Croatia seemed too exhausted to produce a convincing reaction and Serbia enjoyed their biggest lead, 65-48, in the first minute of the final period.
Croatia, who went only 2-for-11 from three-point range in the second half, dug deep and reduced the gap to 69-60 on a Domagoj Bosnjak triple with 5:25 remaining.
Jovan Novak replied with a jumper and then Tejic, who had the knack of scoring at key moments and shot 6-for-10 from the floor to collect a team-high 16 points, made a lay-up to restore Serbia's double-digit lead, 73-60, with 4:11 left on the clock.
Serbia began celebrating their medal conquest already in the final minute of the clash, as it had long been clear that Croatia had no strength and no time to mount a comeback.
Ognjen Jaramaz, who also came off the bench, produced another superb performance for Serbia and finished with 15 points, while Novak had 14 points, five rebounds and four assists.
For Croatia, Karlo Zganec collected 17 points and eight boards and Dominik Mavra had 11 points, five rebounds and five assists in a losing effort.