With France and Spain already sitting in the semi-final of the EuroBasket 2015 competition, all eyes in Lille turned to the remaining four nations. Of course only two of those countries could progress to the final four as another thrilling night of top quality international hoops took place.
Serbia continued its stunning run in the EuroBasket 2015 with a good workout victory over the Czech Republic, while Lithuania outscored Italy in a hard fought contest to punch its ticket to the semis.
Serbia vs. Czech Republic, 89-75
Serbia stayed unbeaten with a cruising last eight victory over the Czech Republic, staying consistent in offence throughout before moving through the gears in the fourth quarter. Serbia’s attack has been thriving during the week and it was showcased again here, with the bench players taking centre stage. Indeed, the second unit combined for 50 points during the contest, with Zoran Erceg and Miroslav Raduljica sharing 36 of those points.
The teams traded buckets through the opening stanza and tied 21-21 through ten minutes, although a 24-21 winning second handed Serbia a 45-42 halftime lead. The Czech’s stayed close with another 21 points in the third act, but Serbia extended to 67-63 by scoring 22 points. The Czech Republic finally wilted in Q4 as a hot Serbian offence continued to press and propel the team to a victory.
Erceg topped Serbia with 20 points while Raduljica netted 16 points and Nemanja Bjelica scored 14 points and claimed 10 rebounds for a double-double. Also producing a double-double game was Milos Teodosic with 12 points and 14 assists.
Jan Vesely was the pick of the players on the hardwood as he led the scoring with 23 points and doubled up by adding 10 boards. Tomas Satoransky plundered 20 points for the losing effort, with Blake Schlib offering 11 points.
Italy vs. Lithuania, 85-95
Current reigning silver medal holders Lithuania will meet Serbia in the Final Four after passing an Italian test in overtime on Thursday. Lithuania will now play for medals again in EuroBasket 2015, but this was easily the closest of the last eight contests. While Italy proved a constant threat, they actually headed into this contest as the best average scorers in the competition, but were kept below that average by a strong Lithuania.
Lithuania fans will take plenty from their team’s excellent and measured attacking play here. The players were confident and economical from beyond the arc, draining 11 of their 18 attempts from downtown to ensure 61.0% shooting from distance. With 28 assists also dished out, Lithuania played one of the most strategic attacking games of this tournament.
After locking the scoreboard 79 points apiece through regulation time, Lithuania finally made the decisive move in the overtime period. At 81-81 Paulius Jankunas drew a foul and went 100% from the charity strip; from there Lithuania kept the lead for good.