Serbia advanced to the FIBA World Cup semi-finals following a comfortable 84-56 win over Brazil in Madrid on Wednesday evening.
Last year’s Eurobasket quarter-finalists got a measure of revenge for their earlier 81-73 loss to the Brazilians in group play.
Milos Teodosic led Serbia with 23 points, 16 of them in the first half.
Brazil were led by Anderson Verejao and Marquinhos Viera who amassed 12 points each. A mere consolation for the FIBA Americas side, who will now prepare to host the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
With the game firmly in the balance, a 21-2 run from Serbia, starting from the second quarter and running to the third, was the killer blow for the Brazilians who were unable to launch a comeback.
“We usually play our best in the third quarter,” said Serbia’s Bogdan Bogdanovic, who added 12 points on 56 percent shooting.
Brazil coach Ruben Magnano said that his team suffered an “emotional black out” during the third period that saw Viera and Tiago Splitter get called for technical fouls in the midst of that game-changing run.
“Until the first 20 minutes the game was different,” Magnano said through a translator.
“[We] became too emotional. They made mistakes that they never make so far in the World Cup. There were the technical fouls and we had an emotional black outs and it was over for the rest of the game.”
The pace of the game to start was free flowing. Both teams showed no signs of rustiness to begin with as Verejao and Serbia’s Miroslav Raduljica hit the first buckets of the contest.
Three free throws and a clever drive to the hoop by Stefan Markovic, who took advantage of the mis-match against Splitter on the perimeter handed the Serbs an early 7-4 lead.
Brazil clawed their way back though; a pass inside to an open Tiago Splitter narrowed the gap to a single point 14-13. Serbia though would hang on to the lead and a bucket from Bogdan Bogdanovic handed the Europeans a 21-17 lead after one.
Alex Garcia ignited a 6-0 for Brazil with back-to-back triples to give the South Americans a 23-21 lead in the first minute of the second period, but it wouldn’t last long. Teodosic gave his side a 29-23 lead and all of a sudden, the Brazilians needed someone to step up.
And they did. Brazil’s trademark offensive transition game came out on show, as they hit 11 unanswered points that included two slams inside by Nene, giving them a 32-29 lead. A three from Nemanja Bjelica ended the Brazilian spell with an open three to tie the game.
Serbia ended the second quarter with an 8-0 run to snatch the lead back and maintain it at half-time, 37-32.
The 8-0 run soon became 12-0, thanks to buckets from Raduljica and Bogdanovic as Brazil’s frustration quickly boiled over as Viera and Splitter were called for technical fouls which Serbia took advantage of to lead 48-34. This was the game-changing run that ultimately beat the 2016 Olympic hosts.
Leandro Barbosa finally got off the mark with 5:29 left of the third, but the Serbians continued to charge forward as an off-balance three from Teodosic gave the Serbians a 20-point lead at 58-38.
The fourth was equally as damaging for the South Americans; back-to-back threes from Nikola Kalinic and a rainbow from Bogdanovic ballooned the score to 75-46, and guaranteed at least three European sides in the World Cup semi-finals.
“This was a good game,” Serbia coach Sasha Djordevic said. “Our players had a great night, focused, hard, physical, smart, very smart. This was a good game for us, an important one for all.”
Serbia now meets the winners of the later game between hosts Spain and France.