After an incredible winning streak, of seven games and as many victories, Serbia has lost. Lithuania was the team to break this amazing score, by a 67-64 win over the Eagles.
The Greens proceed into the final, as Serbia is left to fight for bronze on Sunday against an equally disappointed France. The host intends to end the competition with a medal, while Serbia is looking for at least a third place solace. Nevertheless, the 2016 Olympics will still stay as a hypothetical option for both teams, as only the spot in the final was a guarantee for a trip to Rio.
The two spots in the upcoming final are Spain and Lithuania. The last match of the tournament will be played on Sunday night, while the 3rd place match starts at 2pm, CET of the same day.
In the meantime, the understandably crushed players of coach Aleksandar Đorđević will have to recover moral and fight for a medal, even though it’s far from the gold everyone was expecting. Team Serbia had an impressive roll of victories, and has ended the group phase on the B1 position. They were undefeated until tonight. A victory for an increasingly physical Lithuania, that was always playing on the borders of a foul. The kicks, scratches and red marks on the arms and legs of Serbian players are more than obvious proof of the strength necessary for tonight’s gameplay.
J0nas Valanciunas has proven himself as a key player in his squad’s victory. With 15 points and 3 rebounds, the tall center had locked the key area to almost unreachable lengths. Serbia’s lack of precision on the 6,75 marking was far from helpful, and allowed them to waste potentially easy points, while the defence was far from exemplary, in comparison to the fight that Lithuania had to put up.
The very low number of points both team were scoring during the first half, only went to show how intense the defence and strategy efforts were being made on both sides. The 50 marking was barely broken after the first two halves. Miloš Teodosić was able to return faith with his three pointers, during the final half, but that was simply not enough, in comparison to the stronger collective efforts of the opponent. Lithuania seemed more levelled, almost from the very beginning, while Serbia’s focus was occasionally broken, while the desire to win managed to stop them from showcasing all of their talent, in front of a very loud crowd in Lille. Tonight, almost the entire hall was dressed in green, while Sunday’s match will be packed with French fans. It is only obvious that Serbia won’t be able to count on the “home court” advantage, as they have in Germany.
Serbia was leading during the initial minutes of the match, as well as in the 3rd quarter, but they were always losing the advantage, staying on an average of -4 points, in favor of the opponent. They were able to bridge the -11 difference, reach a -2, and even a deuce. All of which far from enough for the aggressive Lithuanians. A number of dubious estimates by the referees have created an even taller wall for the Serbian players to cross. Sadly, unable to escape the pressure and nerves, they didn’t end up on the other side.
A lot of regrets, wasted energy and emotional moments, are the only things that Serbia now has from this Eurobasket. A perfect example of how one game, one moment can trump all of the rest. All is not lost, as the Eagles play for the bronze. A match that is far from impossible to win, as long as the Serbian team is able to find the strength to get over this semi final defeat.