Serbia held off Turkey in a dramatic squeaker on Sunday to earn passage to the knockout round of EuroBasket 2011. Serbia jumped on Turkey, the silver medalist at last year's FIBA World Championships, early, but had to hold off a late comeback attempt to etch out a 68-67 win and guaranteed advancement to the quarterfinals. Ersan Ilyasova had a chance to win it for Turkey in the final seconds, but missed a contested jumper just before the buzzer.
Turkey is not only eliminated from the European Championship, but has no shot of playing in the 2012 London Olympics. For the team who lost only to Team USA in the 24-team World Championships last year, that's a bitter pill to swallow.
Serbia will be the fourth team to advance from Group E, joining Spain, France and Lithuania. In the round of eight, which begins Wednesday, Serbia will face the winner of Monday's match between unbeaten Russia and sizzling hot F.Y.R. Macedonia.
Spain obliterated a short French team, handing Les Bleus their first loss of the tournament 96-69. French coach Vincent Collet decided to hold Tony Parker and Joakim Noah out of action for an extra rest day, as France had already advanced to the knockouts and were guaranteed the first or second seed out of Group E. Will the decision prove costly? With the loss, France is scheduled to play Greece in the round of eight, while Spain will draw the winner of Monday's Slovenia-Finland match. Most coaches would rather have the winner of Slovenia-Finland than Greece, even with the Greeks missing a few stars.
Lithuania needed to beat Germany in Sunday's final game to keep ahead of Serbia for third place in the group, and did so 84-76. Germany was still alive, needing an 11-point win over Lithuania to leap ahead into the final knockout spot from Group E. But Dirk Nowitzki was held to 4-17 shooting, and Chris Kaman's big game (25 points, 11 rebounds) wasn't enough. It's a disappointing result for Germany, as the team has been ruled out of the 2012 Olympics.
Three games Monday will determine how the quarterfinal matchups fall. Lithuania draws the loser of Russia-Macedonia, Spain draws the winner of Finland-Slovenia and Serbia draws the winner of Russia-Macedonia. As noted above, France is destined to play Greece.