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SPAIN 2014: Serbia survive France late run to set up Final showdown with USA
MADRID (FIBA Basketball World Cup) - Serbia will get the chance to write a new page in the storied history of Yugoslav basketball as they reached the Final of the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup on Friday by knocking off France 90-85 to set up a title game against the undefeated reigning world champions United States.
Milos Teodosic poured in 24 points for Serbia, while Bogdan Bogdanovic added 13. The trio of Stefan Markovic, Nenad Krstic and Miroslav Raduljica each had 11, while Nemanja Bjelica finished with 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists as the Balkan powers reached their first final of FIBA's flagship event under the Serbian flag - in their second world competition.
France got 35 points from Nicolas Batum - 17 of them coming in the fourth quarter - and 13 from Boris Diaw as the European champions came back from an 18-point deficit to make a game of it down the stretch.
The French will play against Lithuania in Saturday's Third-Place Game. A third-place finish would be a best-ever for the French, who couldn't call up their magic from the Quarter-Finals, when they beat hosts Spain in one of the biggest upsets in international basketball history.
Teodosic started his great play right away in the first quarter, scoring six points in an 11-0 Serbian run to open a 20-10 lead. And the gap was 21-15 after 10 minutes.
He continued his magic in the second period with 10 more points as Serbia went on a 9-0 spurt to build a 30-15 lead. Another run of seven unanswered points pushed their advantage to 43-25 and Serbia were on top 46-32 at the break.
Sasha Djordjevic's men had an answer for every France attempt to get back into the game as Les Bleus got to within 53-41. But the Balkan side were still comfortably ahead, up 61-46 after three quarters.
Les Bleus did not give up and quickly cut the lead back down to the magical 10-point barrier, 61-51 with 9:20 left to play.
Then Diaw, Batum and Evan Fournier all nailed three-pointers to cut the Serbian lead down to 65-61 with five minutes remaining.
Bogdanovic came up with a big three-pointer and lay-up to keep the French at arm's length before Teodosic connected from beyond the arc to make it 77-68 with three minutes to go.
Batum, Diaw and Heurtel all knocked down three-pointers to get within 82-79, but Krstic scored inside at the other end with 48 seconds on the clock.
Serbia fouled Heurtel who hit a pair of free-throws that made it 84-81.
Teodosic missed a shot with 23 seconds and fouled Heurtel, sending him back to the foul line where the French playmaker made just one of two for 84-82.
Nikola Kalinic and Bjelica each made a pair of shots from the charity stripe to put Serbia back up by six, 88-82 with 7.3 seconds.
Batum raced down court and hit a contest three-pointer that made it 88-85 but Serbia iced the game when Marko Simonovic made both free-throws with a second left for the final score.