Aug. 9, 2008
RIGA, Latvia - Washington State University men's basketball rising-junior, Nikola Koprivica, and his Serbian team advanced to the championship game at the 2008 U20 European Basketball Championship with a 90-69 win over Turkey, Saturday.
"It would be great to win the championship," Koprivica said. "Being the captain of the team is an honor in itself, but to win a championship would be great. We'd much rather win than get second."
Serbia (4-1) will meet Lithuania (4-1) Sunday for the tournament championship. Lithuania defeated Spain in the other semifinal game, 96-79. Serbia has not yet faced Lithuania in this year's championship. Spain and Turkey will meet for third and fourth place in the championship Sunday.
"It's going to be a tough game against Lithuania, but I think we have the potential to play better basketball than they do," Koprivica said. "As a group they lost to Turkey, I don't know how much that means. I think we shouldn't be scared. We should just play our game and I think we could win."
A native of Belgrade, Serbia, Koprivica came off the bench to score four points and dish out four assists in 16 minutes of action. Koprivica, the lone captain of the team, shot 2-for-2 from 2-point range.
"Before today's game there were high expectations for us, everyone thought we would win," Koprivica said. "Turkey is a good team, they played a good first half. Then in the second half we started playing much better and as soon as we started playing our game we were up by 20 points. There were some Cougar fans at the game, so it was nice to have the WSU support."
Miroslav Raduljica and Milan Macvan led Serbia with 21 points apiece. Raduljica put up a double-double with 10 rebounds. Gokper Gen led Turkey with 20 points, while Baris Hersek added 17 points.
Serbia jumped out to an early 14-4 lead and extended its advantage to 11 points, 28-17, to end the first period. Raduljica and Macvan combined to score 21 of Serbia's 28 points in the opening period. Turkey started to come back at the end of the second quarter, as it cut Serbia's lead to six, 45-39, at halftime.
Turkey pulled within three points (47-44) with nine minutes to go in the third quarter, but Serbia extended its lead back to 15 (74-59) at the end of the third period. The fourth quarter belonged to the Serbians as they outscored their opponent 16-10 in the final quarter for a 21-point victory.