Serbia returns to the elite

SerbiaIn what could be described as the most dramatic game of Eurobasket 2009 the young Serbian squad managed to win over Slovenia to reach the first Eurobasket final since 2001 when they were crowned champions. Milos Teodosic was unstoppable with 32 points as his team earned a memorable overtime win 96-92.

Slovenia tried to knock their opponents out already in the first quarter winning it 19-11. Erazem and Domen Lorbek's as well as Bostjan Nachbar were top scorers early in the game helping their team to earn an early lead.

Both teams scored more than 20 points in the second quarter playing more open basketball. Serbia's efforts to reduce the gap weren't successful as Slovenia finished the first half with a 10-point lead.

It was the third quarter when the young Serbs led by Milos Teodosic showed their fighting spirit and the most interesting part of the game was yet to start with Slovenia having only 1-point lead.

Milos Teodosic hit a three-pointer to open the scoring in the fourth quarter to put Serbia ahead by two points. Jaka Lakovic had the chance to tie the game with two free-throws but it was a horrible night for Barcelona guard as he hit 4/8 free-throws, 1/7 three-pointers and missed all 3 two-point shots.

In the middle of the fourth quarter Slovenia lost their top scorer Erazem Lorbek as he reached the foul limit. But it was Goran Jagodnik who stepped up and scored 8 points in the period of less than 2 minutes. One of his shots was an off balance three-pointer after he nearly lost the ball.

With 1:44 left to play in the fourth quarter Serbia was down 72-78. Milos Teodosic was fouled when attempting a three-point shot and he converted all of his free-throws.  Then Slovenia lost another big man Primoz Brezec who was given an unsportsmanlike foul. It was Teodosic who stepped up the free-throw line but made only one of his free-throws.

Jaka Lakovic was fouled on the other half of the court while Slovenia had 2-point lead but the guard was only able to add one point. With 0:22 left to play in the fourth quarter Milos Teodosic hit the three to tie the game and take to the overtime.

Overtime started with 7 unanswered points by Serbia. And when it seemed like Slovenia ran out of gas they scored 5 points in a row.  But then Milos Teodosic, who was a mystery to the Slovenian defence, hit another three-pointer to take his team ahead 89-84. Bostjan Nachbar made both of his free-throws and it was a one-point game again 89-88. And then no other but Milos Teodosic poured a three-pointer with 26 seconds left to play.

Jaka Lakovic answered with his only three-pointer of the game to bring Slovenia back in the game 91-92. Samo Udrih missed one of his free-throws with 6 seconds left to play as Slovenia was down 94-92. Novica Velickovic was put on the line and scored both free-throws to give Serbia a 4-points lead with 5 seconds on the clock.

Slovenia will hope to win their first ever Eurobasket medals against Greece in a bronze medal game while Serbia take on Spain in the final having beaten them on the opening day.

96 – Serbia – (11+24+21+23+17): *Milos Teodosic 32, *Nenad Krstic 18, Kosta Perovic 18, *Milenko Tepic 11, Novica Velickovic 9, *Uros Tripkovic 3, Stefan Markovic 3, *Miroslav Raduljica 2.

92 – Slovenia – (19+26+12+22+13): *Erazem Lorbek 25, *Domen Lorbek 22, *Bostjan Nachbar 18, Goraj Jagodnik 8, *Jaka Lakovic 7, Samo Udrih 6, *Primoz Brezec 3, Uros Slokar 2, Jurica Golemac 1.