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Serbia beats Lithuania to move into FIBA World Cup semi-final

Serbia's Bogdan Bogdanovic drives to the basket in their Basketball World Cup win over Lithuania.

Serbia's Bogdan Bogdanovic drives to the basket in their Basketball World Cup win over Lithuania. Photo: EPA

Lithuania beat the United States at the 1998 world championships, then failed to medal. Lithuania then beat the US again at the 2004 Olympics, then failed to medal.

And history will repeat itself at this World Cup.

Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 18 of his 21 points in the first half as Serbia – motivated by a serious injury endured by one of their players – topped previously unbeaten Lithuania 87-68 in the World Cup quarter-finals on Tuesday in a result that means Lithuania cannot medal in Manila this weekend.

The best Lithuania can do now is fifth place.

“The game against the United States, as you can see now, it’s nothing,” said Lithuania’s Tadas Sedekerskis, who led his team with 14 points.

“It’s just history. We don’t have any chances to fight for the medal.”

Serbia played with forward Borisa Simanic’s jersey draped over a chair in their bench area.

Simanic lost a kidney after being elbowed in a game against South Sudan last week.

He needed surgery after that game, and complications prompted doctors to operate again Sunday and remove the damaged kidney.

“He texted us this morning,” Bogdanovic said.

“He texted us, ‘Hey, guys, I’m all right. After two surgeries, I’m all right. I’m healthy. Just get the win. Don’t think about me and let’s win tonight’.

“It was a huge boost and huge energy tonight, so thanks to Borisa. This was also for him.”

The loss continues a peculiar jinx for Lithuania, which is 3-8 all-time against the United States at the senior men’s national level – and have turned those three wins into exactly zero medals.

Lithuania was playing less than 48 hours after beating the US 110-104 to close out second-round play in Manila.

But after Tuesday’s loss, Lithuania insisted it wasn’t still revelling in beating the Americans.

“I can guarantee 100 per cent that we forgot it,” Sedekerskis said.

Serbia (5-1) will play Canada or Slovenia in Friday’s semi-finals.

The Canada-Slovenia quarter-final is on Wednesday, with the loser meeting Lithuania (5-1) in the consolation playoffs on Thursday.

Teams cannot medal after losing in the quarter-finals, but will play two more games before leaving Manila to determine fifth through eighth place in the tournament’s overall standings.

Serbia is in the semi-finals for the third time at the past four World Cups.

It lost to Turkey in the last four of the 2010 tournament (and then fell to Lithuania in the bronze-medal game) and lost to the US in the title game of the 2014 event.

Filip Petrusev scored 17 points and Stefan Jovic added 11 for Serbia.

Rokas Jokubaitis had 13 points and nine assists, while Jonas Valanciunas and Ignas Brazdeikis scored 11 apiece for Lithuania.

-AP

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