Oklahoma City Thunder center Nenad Krstic scored 16 points and Aleksander Rasic had 5 in the last 21 seconds to help Serbia edge Croatia, 73-72, in the Round of 16 at the basketball World Championships yesterday in Istanbul.
Croatian guard Marko Popovic made two free throws with five seconds left to tie the game at 72, but Rasic was fouled by Davor Kus as he attempted a shot with one second left.
Rasic made a free throw and Croatia was eliminated when Popovic’s full-court shot fell short as time expired.
“The game was very, very tough this night,’’ said Serbia coach Dusan Ivkovic. “It was necessary to play 40 minutes just to beat a very good team like Croatia.’’
Rasic finished with 15 points for Serbia. Popovic led Croatia with 21, and Roko-Leni Ukic and Marko Banic had 10 apiece.
“I’m not satisfied that we have made just the Round of Eight,’’ Ivkovic said.
Croatia was 5 of 24 on 3-point attempts, while Serbia hit 5 of 15.
Serbia made eight of its first 11 field goal attempts in the first major international basketball game between the Balkan neighbors who fought a war in the early 1990s. But Croatia outrebounded Serbia, 10-2, and took a 27-19 lead going into the second quarter.
Serbia narrowed the gap to 36-34 at halftime, and in the third quarter the teams traded the lead 11 times. Serbia took a 65-57 advantage with three minutes left, but Popovic had 7 points down the stretch to lead Croatia back.
“You can’t be happy when you lose like this,’’ Croatia coach Josip Vrankovic said. “It’s a really hard game, but what can we do?’’
Spain 80, Greece 72 — Juan Carlos Navarro scored 22 points for Spain, which eliminated Greece.
The Spaniards made 8 of 18 3-point attempts and used a 13-3 run in the fourth quarter to push ahead.
Greece closed within 72-68 on Vasileios Spanoulis’s layup with 1:01 left, but Ricky Rubio answered with two free throws.
“It was a very tough game for us,’’ said Rubio. “We have faced some similar problems before with teams like Lithuania because they play very physically and tough.’’
Rudy Fernandez of the Portland Trail Blazers scored 14 points for Spain.
Dimitrios Dimantidis and Nikolaos Zisis each had 16 points for the Greeks, who have lost to Spain seven straight times. Sofoklis Schortsanitis added 13 points.
Spain built a 37-31 lead at halftime as Greece missed all three of its 3-point attempts.
“We had trouble attacking their zone,’’ Greek coach Jonas Kazlauskas said. “Our shooting from outside was not strong enough to beat a team like Spain.’’
Still, Greece opened the second half with a 7-0 run keyed by turnovers.
Greece built its lead to as much as 51-45 with 2:45 left in the third quarter, but Spain scored 6 straight points to end the quarter.
The Greeks struggled to shoot over Spain’s zone in the last quarter, making only 7 of 18 field goal attempts.
Spain will play Serbia Wednesday in the quarterfinals.