MADRID (Reuters) - Dark horses Serbia powered into the basketball World Cup final and will meet holders United States in Sunday’s showdown after beating European champions France 90-85 on Friday.
An inspired performance by Milos Teodosic lifted the Serbs as the 27-year old playmaker nailed 24 points, 18 of them in the first half when his team built a 46-32 lead.
France headed into the clash as favorites after stunning hosts Spain in the quarter-finals but were overran in the opening half by a fast-flowing Serbian outfit who engineered plenty of easy baskets.
Teodosic nailed seven of eight shots from the field and also dished our four telling assists converted by center Miroslav Raduljica, whose physical presence stifled out an athletic French team.
France tightened their defense in the second half and cut the deficit to 84-82 with a flurry of three-pointers but Serbia held on in the closing stages, sparking loud celebrations among their fans in Madrid's City Arena.
Five other Serbian players finished with double scoring digits to cancel out a valiant solo effort by France shooting guard Nicolas Batum, the game’s top scorer with 35 points.
France will meet Lithuania in the bronze medal game on Saturday after the Baltic nation were beaten 96-68 by the United States in the other semi-final on Thursday.
(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic, editing by Mark Meadows)