Serbia beat France to join U.S. in World Cup final

Fri Sep 12, 2014 6:23pm EDT
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MADRID (Reuters) - Serbia continued their remarkable run in the basketball World Cup knockout rounds after a 90-85 win over European champions France on Friday steered them into Sunday's final against holders United States.

The Serbs, who have secured their first World Cup podium finish as an independent nation, will head into the showdown with the U.S. under no pressure after punching well above their weight in the 24-nation tournament.

They squeezed into the last 16 from a tough preliminary group with a 2-3 record but then brushed aside more fancied Greece and Brazil before an impressive win against the French.

"It was a great match and this victory means the world to us and our fans back home," forward Nikola Kalinic told Serbian television in a courtside interview.

"We will head into the final with our heads high and determined to play our best basketball.

"The match against the Americans will be a great experience for us. We won't make idle threats of course but we won't roll over either."

An inspired performance by Milos Teodosic paved the way for the Serbs as the 27-year old playmaker nailed 24 points, 18 of them in the first half when his team built a 46-32 lead.

France headed into the clash as favorites after stunning hosts Spain in the quarter-finals but were overran in the opening 20 minutes by a fast-flowing Serbian outfit who engineered plenty of easy baskets.

Teodosic nailed seven of eight shots from the field and also dished our four telling assists converted by center Miroslav Raduljica, whose physical presence stifled an athletic French team.   Continued...

France's Boris Diaw (R) goes up for the basket against Serbia's Miroslav Raduljica (C) and Serbia's Milos Teodosic during their Basketball World Cup semi-final game in Madrid September 12, 2014.   REUTERS/Susana Vera