July 9, 2009
BELGRADE, Serbia - Washington State University rising-senior Nikola Koprivica and his Serbian squad advanced to the semifinals at the World University Games with a 68-46 victory over Turkey, Thursday, in the tournament quarterfinals.
After handing Turkey (4-1) its first loss, Serbia (4-1) will face Israel (6-0), who advanced to the semifinals with a 66-49 victory over Germany (2-3) in the quarterfinals. On the other side of the bracket, Russia (4-1) defeated Lithuania (5-0), 82-73, while the United States (5-0) came out on top against Bulgaria (3-2), 96-66.
Koprivica finished with three points on 1-for-2 shooting from beyond the 3-point arc. The 6-6 guard saw limited action in the win in his hometown of Belgrade.
"Today I didn't play too much, but I think the time I played I did okay," Koprivica said.
The first half of Serbia's game against Turkey was dominated by the Serbians as they jumped out to an early double-figure lead. Turkey ended the first half with just nine points to Serbia's 20. At the half, Serbia held a 21-point, 40-19, lead.
"We started off the game really well," Koprivica said. "We started off, I think 17-0, so we had a huge lead to start and we just maintained it the whole game. I think it was a good game for us."
Turkey's offense came together in the third quarter as it doubled its score and outscored Serbia, 19-14, but it still trailed 54-38 heading into the final quarter. Although it scored just 14 points for the second-straight period, Serbia held Turkey to just eight points in the fourth quarter for the 22-point, 68-46, victory.
"I think we just played pretty hard, strong," Koprivica said. "We had a meeting before the game and we said we wanted to start it off with good defense, we wanted to focus on defense. We did really well scouting their team, so we didn't get surprised with anything they did."
After sitting out Serbia's game against the USA Tuesday due to a sprained ankle, Serbian starter Marko Keselj made his presence known against Turkey, scoring a game-high 16 points while adding eight rebounds. He dished out two assists and blocked two shots. Dejan Borovnjak shot 6-for-7 from the field for 12 points while grabbing eight boards. Marko Simonovic chipped in 11 points and eight boards.
"Marko (Keselj) was back, he played really well," Koprivica said. "It was good news for us. Hopefully we're going to stay healthy and one more game and we might be playing U.S. again."
Turkey was led by Cem Coskun with 14 points and five rebounds. He was the only scorer in double figures for Turkey, as Soner Senturk added eight points, three rebounds and two assists.
Serbia and Israel meet Friday, July 10 at 5:30 p.m. local time (8:30 a.m. PDT). The winner will advance to the championship game for a chance to face either the United States or Russia for the gold medal, Saturday, July 11 at 9 p.m. local time (noon PDT).
"There's a lot of people thinking that `yeah we're going to play the U.S. in the championship,' and everything," Koprivica said. "Everybody thinks it's going to be easy in the semifinals, but we play Israel and they're a good team so we'll see. I had the chance to watch them before our game. They looked okay, but I think if we play like we did today, I think we're going to beat them."