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Basketball: Serbia down France to make European last-eight

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Serbia head into the quarter-finals of the European basketball championship as a top seed after finishing top of their second round group on Sunday.

They were joined into the final eight by Lithuania, France and Ukraine.

Serbia beat France 77-65 to finish Group E with a 4-1 record.

The Serbs were paced by 19 points, four rebounds and four assists by Nenad Krstic while Bogdan Bogdanovic had 14 points and five rebounds.

France dropped to 3-2 and finished third despite Nicolas Batum, Nando De Colo, Alexis Ajinca and Boris Diaw all scoring 12 points. Tony Parker had eight points.

Serbia placed ahead of Lithuania on the strength of their victory over the Lithuanians on the first day of the tournament.

Lithuania were also 4-1 and took second by knocking off Ukraine 70-63 thanks to Linas Kleiza scoring 15 points and Donatas Motiejunas hitting for 10 points.

"Some were saying that Ukraine were not strong enough, are not playing interesting basketball but as we can see some teams that were not strong enough some years ago have now improved a lot and one of those teams is Ukraine," said Lithuania coach Jonas Kazlauskas.

"They are playing really good basketball and were able to beat a team like Serbia. So big respect to Ukraine who made it a really tough game for us."

Ukraine, who will be hosting the 2015 European Championship, were paced by 18 points from Sergii Gladyr while Eugene Jeter added 10 points and eight assists.

The eastern Europeans were making their first appearance in the second round and now are in the top eight.

"This is a very good thing for Ukrainian basketball, we are already in the quarter-finals but we don't have to stop," said Gladyr.

Ukraine actually already moved into the final eight before their game when Belgium knocked off Latvia 60-56.

Sacha Massot had 15 points as well as a blocked shot and big dunk in the final half-minute in helping already-eliminated Belgium secure their first victory in the second round.

Latvia were hoping to reach the quarter-finals for the first time since 2001 but 10 points and 11 rebounds from Rolands Freimanis were not enough.

"This was our worst game in how many years, and it was our most important game. I don't know why this happened. It's sports," said Freimanis.

Waiting to play that quartet of teams are three teams from Group F already through to the knockout stage in Croatia, Slovenia and Italy.

The final quarter-final team and the match-ups for Wednesday's and Thursday's knockout games will be determined on Monday, when the second group stage comes to a close.

Croatia (3-1) face Greece (1-3) followed by two-time reigning champions Spain (2-2) taking on Italy (2-2) and then Slovenia (3-1) playing against Finland (1-3) in the last game.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130915/basketball-serbia-down-france-make-european-last-eight