Serbia beats Italy 101-82 to take 1st place in group

Serbia’s Ognjen Kuzmic, left and Italy’s Andrea Bargnani, right, challenge for the ball during the EuroBasket European Basketball Championships group B match between Serbia and Italy in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015. (AP Photo/Axel Schmid
Serbia finished the toughest group undefeated at the European basketball championship by beating Italy 101-82 and blasted organizers on Thursday.
Guard Milos Teodosic had 26 points and eight assists as Serbia made sure of winning Group A with a perfect 5-0 record, with both teams heading to the knockout stage in Lille, France.
Defending champion France also finished the group stage undefeated, resting Tony Parker and still beating Group A runner-up Israel 86-61 at home in Montpellier.
Spain (3-2) edged Germany 77-76 to advance with Serbia from Group B. Germany (1-4) was eliminated and gave a rousing standing ovation to Dirk Nowitzki, who may have played his last match for his homeland. Spain finished second in the group, ahead of Italy.
Newcomer Iceland took Turkey to overtime but the Turks (3-2) then dominated to win 111-102 and finish fourth.
Nemanja Bjelica had 19 points and eight rebounds for Serbia, which shut down Italy\’s powerful front line for most of the match.
Andrea Bargnani and Danilo Galinari scored a combined 21 points throughout the first three quarters. Bargnani finished with 17 points and Galinari 14, while Alessandro Gentile led Italy with 19.
Italy (3-2) rested high-scoring guard Marco Belinelli, who has a sore groin muscle.
"Defense is our greatest strength and we used our greatest strength," Serbia coach Sasa Obradovic said.
Obradovic also criticized the schedule – five group games in six days – with teams often getting less than 24 hours to rest.
"It\’s incredibly difficult, it\’s not human," he said.
Sergio Llull made four free throws late against Germany to secure Spain\’s victory. Dennis Schroeder could have sent the game into overtime but he made only two of three free throws with three seconds remaining.
Spain had what seemed a safe 10-point lead until Germany rallied late.
Nowitzki and Maodo Lo hit consecutive 3s to bring Germany within one with 23 seconds remaining.
Llull then made two free throws, so did Schroeder, and Llull hit two again. Schroeder went for a 3-pointer and got the call, but missed the last shot from the foul line.
Schroeder finished with a game-high 26 points, and had seven assists and six rebounds. Nowitzki finished with 10 points and seven rebounds. Tibor Pleiss had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Pau Gasol contributed 16 points and 11 rebounds for Spain, and Sergio Rodriguez added 19 points. Llull had 14.
Serbia will take on Finland in the first knockout game on Sunday. Finland (2-3) finished fourth in Group A after losing 78-65 to Poland (3-2).
Belgium (3-2) made sure of advancing from Group D by beating Ukraine 79-71. Latvia (3-2) also went through after beating Estonia 75-64. Lithuania (4-1) won the group by defeating the Czech Republic 85-81 in overtime.
In Group C, Slovenia (3-2) defeated Macedonia 62-51 to make the Round of 16. Georgia (2-3) stunned Croatia 71-58, but host Croatia (3-2) finished second to Greece. Six Georgia players scored in double digits.
Because undefeated Greece beat the Netherlands 66-63, Georgia made it into the last 16 despite losing to the Dutch in its opener.
In a Group A game between two already eliminated teams, Russia salvaged some pride by defeating Bosnia-Herzegovina 81-61.
The tournament moves to Lille, where on Saturday it\’s: Spain vs. Poland, Greece vs. Belgium, France vs. Turkey, Latvia vs. Slovenia.
On Sunday, it\’s Serbia vs. Finland, Croatia vs. the Czech Republic, Israel vs. Italy, and Lithuania vs. Georgia.
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