Serbia beats Lithuania to reach Fiba World Cup semifinals
Serbia became the first team to reach the Fiba World Cup semifinals after beating Lithuania 87-68 as the knockout phase got underway on Tuesday in Manila.
Bogdan Bogdanovic had 21 points for Serbia, which will play either Canada or Slovenia in the semifinals on Friday.
Lithuania went into the game as the tournament’s only unbeaten team after downing the United States in their previous outing.
But the Serbians took control in the second quarter, outscoring Lithuania 25-13 to open up a lead that they never gave back.
Bogdanovic, who plays for the Atlanta Hawks in the NBA, guard had 18 points in the first half alone for Serbia.
Bogdanovic finished as his team’s top scorer, followed by Filip Petrusev with 17 points and Stefan Jovic with 11.
“I play a game of basketball on instinct, and sometimes I’m crazy and sometimes I shoot too much, I know,” said Bogdanovic. “Tonight was the way that I hope I play until the end of the tournament.”
Tadas Sedekerskis was Lithuania’s top scorer with 14 points, followed by Rokas Jokubaitis with 13.
Lithuania could not repeat the strong start they made against the US, where it nailed its first nine three-point attempts before going on to claim a 110-104 win.
Serbia was playing without power forward Borisa Simanic, who underwent surgery to remove a kidney on Sunday after being injured earlier in the tournament.
Bogdanovic said Simanic addressed the squad before their quarter-final and gave them “amazing energy”.
“He said ‘Guys, I’m good, don’t worry, let’s win tonight’,” said Bogdanovic, who finished as the game’s top scorer with 21 points.
“For him to think about us after everything that happened to him, he united us.
“That’s an amazing guy and this is for him.”
WATCH: Bogdan Bogdanovic after Serbia’s win over Lithuania.
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Simanic was hit by a South Sudan player’s elbow during a pool game on August 30.
Nikola Jokic, who led the Denver Nuggets to last season’s NBA title and was named MVP of the Finals, is not appearing for Serbia at the World Cup as he rests ahead of the new season.
Lithuania’s Tadas Sedekerskis, who led his team in scoring with 14 points, said the win over the US team did not take their minds off the prize.
“We came here to win a medal,” he said.
“We knew that if we wanted to do that, we had to beat Serbia today in the quarter-finals.
“The game against the United States, as you can see now, means nothing, just history.”