|Stefan Peno led Serbia with 16 points, as they survived in a nervous finale|
A fourth quarter rally from France fell agonisingly short as Serbia survived for a 60-59 victory to open their Group A campaign at the U16 European Championship Men.
Missed free throws almost cost them dearly but France were guilty too in a thrilling finale to a close, physical game.
Serbia led 51-40 at the start of the final period but any hopes they had of cruising to the finish evaporated as France began with an 8-2 run, closing to the gap to 53-48 on Olivier Cortale's three-pointer.
The advantage was down to two, 57-55, after Luc Loubaki's dunk with 3:53 remaining and France were not done yet.
Vojislav Stojanovic split a pair of free throws and Stefan Kenic sank a jump-shot to pad Serbia's lead, but France responded with Stephane Gombauld's lay-up and then capitalised on a Serbian turnover to cut the lead to one with Loubaki's lay-up, 41 ticks from time.
Another turnover, this time from Stojanovic, put the ball back in French hands but Loubaki gave it straight back.
Stojanovic drew a foul and went to the line only to miss both shots. Nikola Rakicevic bailed him out with an offensive rebound and immediately drew a foul of his own, but he too came up empty with both attempts.
Missing was infectious, and when Loubaki went to the line for France with 11 seconds left he missed both attempts before Amine Noua missed the tip-in.
Gombauld tried again on the buzzer but it was to no avail as Serbia escaped with victory.
Stefan Peno led Serbia with 16 points while Milos Glisic had 15 and Slobodan Jovanovic 12.
Gombauld was the sole French player in double figures with 21 points.