Posted Sep 17 2009 3:25PM
KATOWICE, Poland (AP) -- Serbia used a smothering defense to beat defending champion Russia 79-68 on Thursday and advance to the semifinals of the European basketball championship.
Serbia turned up the defensive pressure in the second quarter to grab control of the game with a 17-0 run and take a 38-24 lead that Russia could never close.
"I think that we deserved this victory tonight," Serbia coach Dusan Ivkovic. "It was a very, very tough game, good game, and the key to the game was the bench players ... which played I think in the second quarter great defense."
Serbia held Russia without a field goal for seven minutes, a stretch that saw the defending champions commit five turnovers and miss three lay-ups.
"They really defended hard, and we stopped playing and we gave into that, and it took us another quarter to recover," Russia coach David Blatt said. "We never really got back in the game."
Russia, which has only three players from the team that upset Spain in the 2007 final, looked sluggish all night against a well-organized Serbian team, and never cut the lead to under 10 points.
"They have the kind of lineup that is very problematic for us. They have a very good mix of inside-outside players," Blatt said. "Unless you're in the game with them the whole way, you're going to have trouble winning the game. And we certainly were not in the game the whole game."
Guard Uros Tripkovic scored 18 points to lead Serbia, while center Kosta Perovic added 13 points and five rebounds.
Vitalii Fridzon led Russia with 15 points
Serbia will play either Slovenia or Croatia in the semifinals on Saturday.
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