The semifinals for the 2013 EuroBasket are set, following quarterfinal wins by Croatia and Lithuania on Thursday. With the wins, those two teams will advance for a shot at a EuroBasket title, and have now officially qualified for the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup. Their defeated opponents, Ukraine and Italy, will head down to the classification round where they'll scramble to finish higher than eighth place.
Croatia 84, Ukraine 72 -- Krunoslav Simon scored 23 points and hit five three-pointers as a red-hot Croatian team shot its way past Ukraine in the EuroBasket quarterfinals. Croatia, which has won eight in a row since losing to Spain in the EuroBasket opener, hit 47 percent from the floor and 44 percent of its three-point attempts on Thursday, sending Ukraine to the classification round.
Ball movement was key for Croatia, which had 22 assists and a number of good opportunities. Meanwhile, Ukraine turned the ball over 17 times and gave up 22 points off those mistakes.
Ukraine led, 28-27, a few minutes into the second quarter, but Croatia went on a 27-7 run over the next eight minutes to build its largest lead of 19. Croatia never looked back.
Guard Bojan Bogdanovic added 14 points and Baltimore product Dontaye Draper dished out six assists for Croatia. Draper's American counterpart for Ukraine, Pooh Jeter, led his team with 19 points and six assists in the losing effort. Ukranian Sergii Gladyr scored 13 and former Arizona center Kyryl Natyazhko added 10 for Mike Fratello's squad.
Ukraine will face Italy on Friday in the losers' bracket, the loser of which will go down to play Serbia in the seventh-place game. Croatia will play Lithuania.
Lithuania 81, Italy 77 -- Italy scored in a flourish just before halftime to head into the locker room down just one point to the Lithuanians. In the second half, Lithuania's stifling defense eventually vanquished the Italians. Italy led by one point, 58-57, heading into the fourth quarter but went scoreless for more than six minutes to give Lithuania the lead for good.
NBAers Jonas Valanciunas and Donatas Motiejunas were relatively quiet for the game, combining for nine points and four rebounds in under 30 total minutes. Instead, Mantas Kalnietis and Renaldas Seibutis paced Lithuania offensively, scoring 17 points apiece. The two also combined for 13 rebounds, and Kalnietis had five assists in an exemplary effort. For the game, Lithuania beat Italy, 38-25, on the boards.
The Italians were without Danilo Gallinari and Andrea Bargnani, so it was up to Marco Belinelli and Alessandro Gentile to pick up the slack. Belinelli led Italy with 22 points, but got there on 8-for-17 shooting, including 2-for-7 on three-pointers. Gentile chipped in 15 points, but was also relatively inefficient at 4-for-11 shooting. Both men scored a flurry of points in the final minutes of regulation, just as they had to end the first half, but it wasn't enough to overcome the long dormant stretch to start the fourth.
Slovenia 92, Serbia 74 -- After a disappointing loss to France in the quarterfinals, host country Slovenia bounced back with a victory over Serbia in the classification round, securing a spot in the 2014 World Cup of Basketball. Zoran Dragic stole the show, with 23 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks in a game that Slovenia controlled throughout.
Serbia's disappointing performance in the tournament section of EuroBasket continued. After going 8-3 through group play, Serbia has been blown out by Spain and Slovenia in the last two days. No Serbian player scored more than 12 points as they were held to only 37.5% by a stifling Slovenian defense. They will have one more chance to qualify for the World Cup on Saturday, when they play in the seventh-place game.