Serbia beats Australia 87-61, plays US for men's hoops title
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) Serbia had a late last look against the U.S. and missed.
The Serbs are getting another shot.
Milos Teodosic scored 22 points as Serbia, which pushed the star-studded American squad to the final seconds before losing earlier in the Rio Games, moved into the Olympic gold-medal game with a shockingly easy 87-61 semifinal win over Australia on Friday.
Stefan Markovic scored 14, Nikola Jokic had 11 rebounds and the Serbs, a squad with a mixture of moxie and muscle, earned another crack at the U.S. on Sunday. The two-time defending gold winners held off Spain 82-76 to advance.
Serbia's win guaranteed its first Olympic medal in men's basketball since gaining independence in 2006.
''Unbelievable,'' said forward Nikola Kalinic. ''Serbia is a really small country, so it's an even bigger success for such a small country, two times in the world championship and now in the Olympic games. We are in the finals against the U.S. States, so it's an unbelievable success.''
The Aussies, too, were hoping to play the U.S. again, but they scored just five points in the first quarter and 14 in the half and will have to beat Spain for their first Top 3 finish.
With five NBA players, Australia brought its most talented team ever to Brazil. But the Aussies couldn't overcome their horrendous start.
Running their offense to text-book precision, the Serbs back cut, screened and scared the Americans in pool play before losing 94-91 in perhaps the tourney's most well-played game. Serbia had a chance to force overtime, but guard Bogdan Bogdanovic missed a 3-pointer as time expired.
Serbia lost to the U.S. by 37 in the 2014 FIBA World Cup, but that experience only strengthened this group, which was beaten by 15 against Australia in the opening round.
Patty Mills scored 13 for the Aussies, but was only 1 of 9 on 3s. Andrew Bogut, who worked his way to Brazil after suffering a knee injury in the NBA Finals, had just four points and couldn't carve out any space in the lane.
Australia was doomed by the atrocious start.
It was breakfast with the Boomers, as the men's national team is known, back in Australia as the game tipped off at 8 a.m. local time. As the start approached, Andrew Gaze, a five-time Olympian for Australia now doing TV color commentary, encouraged his countrymen to cheer from afar.
''Wake the children, phone the neighbours, the time has come,'' Gaze posted on Twitter.
Someone needed to alert the Aussies, who made just 2 of 15 shots in the opening quarter and never recovered.
Serbia built a 24-point lead in the second quarter on a three-point play by the talented Teodosic, who has become friends with U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski. The Aussies tried to come back, but whether it was layups, mid-range jumpers or 3s, they just kept missing.
Australia finished just 4 of 31 on 3-pointers.
It was a disappointing performance for a team that had played as well as anyone.
But the Serbs, who defeated Croatia in the quarterfinals, dismantled the Aussies from the opening tip.
In Teodosic, they have one of Europe's best guards and they've got inside muscle with Jokic and Miroslav Raduljica, their tattooed center who left his mark on the Aussies with a few thunderous dunks.