29 July, 2017
06 August
5 Aleksa Uskokovic (SRB), 4 Stefan Momirov (SRB)
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Semi-Finals preview: Serbia ready to take next step, Uskokovic says

BRATISLAVA (FIBA U18 European Championship) - The medal race at the FIBA U18 European Championship 2017 has dwindled down to just four contenders, with Lithuania, Serbia, Spain and Turkey being the last teams standing after punching through their Semi-Finals tickets on Friday evening.

The throne of the best European 1999-born generation is now open after the Serbian side eliminated Bosnia and Herzegovina, the winners of the FIBA U16 European Championship 2015 in Kaunas, leaving previous runners-up Lithuania and third-placed Turkey the odds-on favorites to go the whole way.

"That's our first big result, because we are now in the Semi-Finals and, for the 1999-born generation, that's the first opportunity to go into the Final."Aleksa UskokovicAleksa Uskokovic

It will be the champion-slayers from Serbia — Marko Pecarski, Aleksa Uskokovic, Nikola Miskovic and company — who will stand in the way of Arnas Velicka and his Lithuania team, while Turkey will play Spain, who went through some overtime drama against France in the Quarter-Finals.

The assist leader of the championship, Velicka, recorded the tournament's first triple-double in a 73-67 victory over Italy to get to the Semi-Finals, scoring 14 points, grabbing 13 rebounds and dishing out 11 assists.

The point guard, who is among the four players to have won silver at the FIBA U18 European Championship last year with the 1998-born Lithuanian generation, has enjoyed a stellar summer with the national team, averaging career-highs across the board with 15.0 points, 7.6 rebounds and 6.6 assists per game.

The other returnees Lukas Uleckas, Ignas Sargiunas and Grantas Vasiliauskas also play big roles and would like to add another medal to the collection that already includes one piece of silverware apiece from U16, U17 and U18 championships.

Serbia are similarly dependent on leading scorer Pecarski, who is averaging 13.0 points and 8.6 rebounds per game, and the two other double-digit scorers Uskokovic and Miskovic, with the latter coming back to life after a forgettable start in Piestany.

After blowing out Bosnia and Herzegovina 82-50 in their Quarter-Final, the captain of the team Uskokovic was overjoyed with how the side played and expected big things from his teammates in the Semi-Final against Lithuania.

"First of all, I am so happy because this game was great for us. We played like never before, we were aggressive and stayed focused on the game for the full 40 minutes," said the player after the momentous win.

"That's our first big result, because we are now in the Semi-Finals and, for the 1999-born generation, that's the first opportunity to go into the Final. We will do everything we can to take the extra step and do that. We believe in ourselves in this tournament and we have shown great play and great focus."

Meanwhile, the other Semi-Final will feature the still-undefeated Turkey, who snatched up an 81-63 victory against Greece in the Quarter-Finals, and Spain, still on a high after winning 86-85 against France in overtime.

In spite of playing without two FIBA U16 European Championship 2015 All-Star Five members in Onuralp Bitim and Ahmet Can Duran, Turkey have been on a roll in the tournament behind the strong play of Ragip Berke Atar, who is putting up 20.2 points and 8.8 rebounds per game, and Yigitican Saybir, who is averaging 14.6 points and 5.4 boards. 

Fourth at the FIBA U16 European Championship 2015 and at the FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup 2016, the Sergi Martinez-led Spain will still be trying to lift the podium curse. The all-round forward is averaging 15.0 points and 7.0 rebounds per game, but coach Joaquin Prado has plenty of other weapons in Josep Puerto, Osas Ehigitor, Miguel Gonzalez and the hero of the Quarter-Final game Didac Cuevas.

You can follow Live Updates throughout each game day, watch all of the games for free on the FIBA YouTube channel and follow #FIBAU18Europe across social media.

Latvia v Montenegro

Greece v France

Slovak Republic v Slovenia

Italy v Bosnia and Herzegovina

Ukraine v Finland

Russia v Germany