18,000-strong Serbian fanatics that piled out of the Belgrade Arena last night and woke up this morning are still wondering what on earth happened?
With under five minutes left, their team were up 67-54 and seemed to be crusing. Their bitter rivals Montenegro looked out of sorts and unable to finish strong but the passionate and proud support turned to shock and disbelief.
Milos Teodosic split his free throws to give Serbia a narrow 71-70 lead with seconds remaining when Nikola Ivanovic got the ball at half-court and took aim with Teodosic getting his arm up to distract him.
Teodosic’s face dropped, the fans expressions dropped but more importantly; the ball dropped. Silence from the stands, joy for Montenegro. After declaring independence from eachother in 2006, there was a lot of pride on the line and it showed. The Montenegrins though had the last laugh.
Suad Sehovic led Montenegro with 17 points and 10 rebounds, a terrific double-double. Ivanovic ended with 10 overall.
Despite losing, Teodosic led all scorers with 21 points, Milan Macvan added 17, but despite the last second hail mary, Serbia will look towards their poor foul shooting as a key to this loss, only going 9/20 from the stripe.
“This is a great victory,” proclaimed Montenegro coach Luka Pavicevic. “Congratulations to the players for a great effort and brilliant concentration and I wish all the best to Serbia and coach Dusan Ivkovic.”
The Serbian coach, who masterminded Olympiacos’ Euroleague triumph in May thanks to a buzzer beater from Georgios Printezis was this time on the receiving end.
“We had too many oscillations in the game, especially in the second quarter,” he said. “I am ready to take responsibility for the defeat but these players deserve credit and support.”
Serbia had started the brighter of the two team, racing to a 23-15 lead after the first quarter, but the visitors came back and tied the game at 35-35 at half-time. The Serbs, thanks to Teodosic edged the third 55-52 before Montenegro, who went on a 12-2 run in the fourth snatched the win.