Serbia beats Czech Republic to reach Eurobasket semifinals
LILLE, France (AP) Jonas Valanciunas scored 26 points and had 15 rebounds to help Lithuania overcome Italy 95-85 in overtime on Wednesday for a place in the semifinals of the European basketball championship.
Lithuania, a three-time champion and silver medalist two years ago, will next play Serbia, which beat the Czech Republic 89-75.
Zoran Erceg scored 20 points and Milos Teodosic had 14 assists for Serbia, which is undefeated in seven straight games.
Jonas Maciulis had another double-double for Lithuania with 19 points and 10 rebounds. He went 3-for-4 from the 3-point range as Lithuania made 11 of 18 attempts from beyond the arc.
Danilo Gallinari, who finished with 17 points, forced overtime with a drive inside, but Lithuania dominated in the extra five minutes despite three turnovers as Italy began to tire.
Matas Kalnietis sank a 3-pointer for a six-point Lithuania lead with 1:49 left and Valanciunas followed with four straight points as Lithuania pulled away for a 90-83 lead to secure the victory.
Lithuania also beat Italy in the quarterfinals two years ago. Andrea Bargnani led Italy with 21 points.
Defending champion France plays Spain in the first semifinal on Thursday and Serbia and Lithuania meet on Friday.
Serbia's bench contributed 50 points and Erceg was nearly perfect from the field as the Serbs overcame 23 points and 10 rebounds from Jan Vesely, the Czech center who played club basketball in Serbia, which won the silver medal at last year's World Cup.
Guard Tomas Satoransky kept the Czechs in the game by scoring 14 of his 20 points in the third quarter, when Serbia led by 10 but went into the final period with only a four-point lead.
Teodosic, who finished with 12 points, made a three-point play to make it 75-64 with seven minutes remaining and Serbia sailed from then on.
''He is an incredible player. I really enjoy watching him in practice because I see things I've never seen in my life,'' said Serbia's coach Sasa Djordjevic, once one of the most popular and best players in Serbia. ''His vision is incredible. He is special, unique.''
Serbia is playing its first semifinal since 2009, when it took the silver medal.
''It wasn't a brilliant victory but we won and that's the main thing,'' Raduljica said. ''Erceg had a fantastic game and kept us in it with his points.''
Center Miroslav Raduljica added 16 points for Serbia and Nemanja Blejica had another Serbian double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Erceg's only miss from the field was one of his four 3-point attempts.
''We knew that it was going to be a tough game and the Czechs confirmed that they are a good, hard team,'' said Erceg, a power forward whose career has been plagued by injuries. ''I hit some important shots today but it's a matter of team play. One of us always steps up and today I was the one. This is just another step on our path.''
The Serbs kept Satoransky to two points in the first half, but the Czech guard exploded after the break.
He and Vesely were giving Serbia a hard time, but they got little support. Guard Blake Schilb, who also played club basketball in Belgrade, had 11 points, but all came in the first quarter. The Czech bench produced only 14 points.