Impressive Serbia beats Finland and reaches top-16 of FIBA Eurobasket 2022

Backed by their 5,000 traveling fans and led by their NBA star, Lauri Markkanen, Finland hoped they could make life difficult for Serbia on Monday.

The 2017 runners-up, however, responded with a statement win, 100-70, which lifts them to 3-0 in Group D and earns them a spot in the Round of 16.

Svetislav Pesic still did not have a full-strength roster, even with the arrival of Nikola Milutinov. The center is back to full fitness and was in the lineup, but he did not need to enter the court. Vanja Marinkovic was absent from the team with stomach issues.

Turning point: The tip-off. Serbia missed only two shots in the first six and a half minutes, dished out eight assists on 11 field goals, and already scored 26 points by that point. Finland made a run to reduce the deficit to 33-22 at the end of the first quarter, but a relentless 11-0 Serbian run made it clear that there would be no upset in Prague. Serbia had 62 at the half, Finland passed that mark only at the 2:07 mark in the fourth quarter, which means that Serbia scored more in 20 minutes than Finland in 38.

TCL Player of the Game: Coach Svetislav Pesic. Technically, we cannot pick a coach here, but it was a masterful display of out-pacing Finland, matching their intensity by going even harder after them and balancing out the minutes and roles for all his players. The one who shined the brightest was once again Nikola Jokic, with 13 points, 14 rebounds, and seven assists. Also in double digits: Vasilije Micic (14 points, seven assists), Nemanja Nedovic (14 points), Nikola Kalinic (13 points, five assists, four rebounds), Vladimir Lucic (12 points), and Marko Guduric (11 points).

Stats don’t lie: Hard to pick just one thing, but Serbia’s high percentages were due to their excellent looks all game long. They got 44 points in the paint, exactly the double of Finland’s tally in the key.

Bottom line: Serbia remains unbeaten, joining Germany, Greece, and Ukraine as the only other unbeaten teams in FIBA EuroBasket 2022. The scariest part is that we are yet to see Serbia at their best when they have both Milutinov and Marinkovic back in their lineup. Lauri Markkanen was impressive even in a defeat like this, getting 18 points, seven rebounds, and five assists. Finland dropped to 1-2 and has a tough assignment in less than 24 hours, facing the hosts Czech Republic, also at 1-2.

Coach Svetislav Pesic


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