Serbia overcomes Greece in titanic overtime battle in front of record crowd

Serbia got their bid to reach next year’s FIBA Basketball World Cup back on track with an important 100-94 overtime triumph against Greece in front of a European Qualifiers record crowd of 19,150.

In a battle of two recent back-to-back NBA MVPs, Nikola Jokic prevailed over Giannis Antetokounmpo as bottom beat top to open up Group I in the Second Round.

Serbia-Greece Jokic and Antetokounmpo

Turning point: The hosts had been ahead for most of the contest and moved up by 10 in the fourth before Greece rallied to make it a one-possession game. Serbia made some big shots, but Tyler Dorsey tied the game with a corner triple to force overtime. Serbia made the first move in the extra period, and this time, they could close it out.

Game heroes: Jokic paced Serbia with 29 points, eight rebounds, and six assists in the win, but there was a telling contribution off the bench from Ognjen Jaramaz: 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting, including a huge three down the stretch in regulation. It was enough to fend off Giannis’ European Qualifier’s record-breaking effort of 40 points along with eight boards and five assists.

Stats don’t lie: Serbia had the lead for 41:23 of an enthralling contest, while Greece was only ahead for just over a minute. The depth for the hosts told with 33 points off the bench as they needed significant contributions following an injury to Vasilije Micic, who had started well.

Bottom line:  The perfect response from Serbia to the June-July window as they got the all-important win. The Jokic-Giannis battle was epic, and attention quickly turns to Sunday’s games, with Serbia visiting Turkey with the chance to move into the top three, while Greece return home to take on Belgium.


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