Croatia, Lithuania to clash in Euro semis
- Published: 20/09/2013 at 05:49 AM
- Online news:
Croatia and Lithuania set up a semi-final showdown at the European championships on Thursday while hosts Slovenia bounced back from their quarter-final defeat to book a spot at the 2014 World Cup.
Dario Saric of Croatia (C) and his teammates celebrate their victory after the FIBA Eurobasket quarter final match between Croatia and Ukraine at the Stozice Arena in Ljubljana, on September 19, 2013.
Croatia continued their hot streak as Krunoslav Simon scored 23 points while Bojan Bogdanovic added 14 in the Balkan side's 84-72 win over Ukraine.
The victory sends Croatia to the semi-finals for the first time since they collected back-to-back bronze medals in 1993 and 1995.
"For a long time we didn't make a semi-final -- 18 years. That was our first goal coming here because this generation is a very talented generation and deserves to be in all competitions," said Croatia coach Jasmin Repesa, whose team has now reeled off eight straight victories since losing their opener by 28 points to Spain.
"This story is so beautiful, it would be really bad to stop here."
Croatia at the same time secured a spot in next summer's World Cup in Spain.
Ukraine were paced by 19 points, six rebounds and six assists from Eugene Jeter.
Joining Croatia in booking a trip to the 2014 World Cup are Lithuania, who ended Italy's Cinderella run with an 81-77 victory.
Mantas Kalneitis and Renaldas Seibutis both scored 17 points and Jonas Maciulis added 13 for Lithuania, back in the semi-finals for the first time since taking bronze in 2007.
"We're very happy to beat such a great team. A little bit of pressure is off," said Martynas Pocius, who added 11 points.
Since losing in the final first round game and nearly being eliminated, Lithuania have now booked four straight wins.
Italy reached the quarter-finals despite a number of injuries to star players before the tournament and now Simone Pianigiani's team will take on Ukraine in classification games for fifth to eighth place on Friday.
The winner between Italy and Ukraine will automatically book a spot at the 2014 World Cup as well and then play hosts Slovenia for fifth place.
The loser between Italy and Ukraine will take on Serbia in the seventh place game on Saturday -- the winner of which secures the final direct qualification berth for Spain 2014.
Slovenia also secured qualification to the 2014 spectacle with a 92-74 win over Serbia thanks to 23 points and nine rebounds from Zoran Dragic and 15 points from both Goran Dragic and Bostjan Nachbar.
Serbia lost despite 16 points from Nenad Krstic.
Two-time defending champions Spain and 2011 runners-up France will face off in Friday's second semi-final.
About the author
- Writer: AFP
Position: News agency