Serbia edge Russia to book Finals date with Slovenia
ISTANBUL (FIBA EuroBasket 2017) - Serbia edged Russia 87-79 in a see-sawing Semi-Final to book a date with Slovenia in the Final.
Turning point: It was a game of spurts with momentum swinging wildly within minutes. Russia trailed for much of the game by double digits before getting within 2 points midway through the fourth. Aleksei Shved missed a wide open deep three for the lead, only for Vasilje Micic to connect from deep at the other end. It gave the momentum to Serbia and they hung on from there.
Stats-don't-lie: With the towering Boban Marjanovic, Serbia absolutely dominated in the paint, despite Russia having no shortage of size themselves. Serbia won the battle down-low, outscoring Russia 44-22 in the paint.
Game hero: It was a shootout between Shved and his counterpart Bogdan Bogdanovic with the pair scoring at will. However, Bogdanovic was more efficient and hit several clutch shots at the end to ensure Serbia held on for the win.
They said: "We have to think about the next opponent in Slovenia. They are the absolute favorites...he yelled and screamed. Then he celebrated our win. Jovic has a big heart" - Serbia coach Alexsandar Djordjevic talking about the upcoming Final clash with Slovenia and Stefan Jovic, who suffered a leg injury in the third quarter.
"We were trying to hide our weaknesses but they punished us with bench players. We can be proud of the way we fought back. We had some ups and downs basketball-wise but we can be proud and we had a chance" - Russia coach Sergey Bazarevich speaking after his team's loss.
Serbia led for most of the game through a 14-0 run in the second quarter. However, the game took several turns as Russia would not give up. With Shved scoring in spurts, Russia fought right back getting it to a single possession game until Serbia steadied late.
Bogdanovic finished with 24 points and was supported by Marjanovic's 18 points and 6 rebounds. Shved scored 33 points for Russia, who will play Spain for Bronze.
Serbia will be playing in the Final for the first time since 2009 but had an injury scare when point guard Stefan Jovic hobbled off with a leg injury in the third quarter.
Bravo!!! Idemo po zlato!— Milos Teodosic (@MilosTeodosic4) September 15, 2017