FIBA World Cup 2014 - Serbia Book USA Final Showdown -

FIBA World Cup 2014 – Serbia Book USA Final Showdown

Serbia reached the final of the FIBA World Cup 2014 after beating France 90-85 in a gripping semi-final in Madrid on Friday.

Nicolas Batum netted an impressive 35 points on 8-12 3-point shooting while Boris Diaw added 13 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists but France saw their comeback fall short to miss out on a place in the final.

As for Serbia, they progress to Sunday’s showdown with the defending world champions USA in high spirits after continuing their strong form in the knockout stages. Milos Teodosic top scored with 24 points to lead a total of six players in double figures.

They made a strong start to the second semi-final and led by as many as 10 points before France reduced their arrears to 21-15. A 3-pointer from Batum had made it 10-9 to France early on and that would prove to be their only lead of the entire game, lasting a mere 21 seconds.

A 9-0 start to the second saw Serbia take control with a 30-15 advantage forcing their opponents into a time-out. Teodosic continued to cause France problems, and they could only just cut the lead to trail by 14 at half-time, 46-32.

Teodosic and Batum exchanged three’s at the start of the third and it would set the tone for the quarter with neither side able to go on a run with Serbia maintaining their convincing hold to lead 61-46 heading into the fourth.

Then back came the French as they stepped it up at both ends to haul themselves back into contention. Eric Fournier’s triple sparked a 5-0 start and France managed to keep Serbia scoreless for almost three minutes at the start of the fourth.

Diaw sunk a three to cut the deficit into single figures before Batum and Fournier followed suit once more and all of a sudden France were within four at 65-61. Bogdan Bogdanovic nailed a triple to keep France at bay momentarily and he would play a key role in the final stages with 10 crucial points.

The three’s kept dropping and France were soon back to within four points as the game entered the final two minutes. Thomas Heurtel stepped up with a 3-pointer of his own before going on to make 3/4 from the FT line to make it a two-point game with 17 seconds left.

Nikola Kalinic and Nemanja Bjelica both nailed their free throw attempts before Batum landed another three to give his side a glimmer of hope down 88-85 but Marko Simonovic sealed the win with two more successful makes from the foul line..

Despite a valiant effort in the final quarter, outscoring their opponents 39-29, it wasn’t to be for France and they now take on Lithuania in the bronze medal game on Saturday, which will be a repeat of last year’s EuroBasket final.

Game highlights below.

The final also takes place in Madrid and UK fans can watch it live on BT Sport 2 from 8pm on Sunday as the USA and Serbia battle it out for gold.

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