Serbia won a 7-0 run in the last 2:13 to defeat China 77-70 Tuesday night at the Saitama Super Arena in Japan and advancing to the 2020 Olympic Semifinals.
Defense was key during the run-up as Serbia kept China off the field against a 0-on-6 attempt. Li Meng missed a triple with 31 seconds left, which would have reduced China’s deficit to one. Serbia then went 3-of-4 from the free throw line to clinch the deal. Sonja Vasic (16 points, 10 rebounds) was 4-of-4 from the line during the run.
With another key run, Serbia was able to win the match. It was left behind with nine penetrating the fourth by beating China 12-0 to open the frame. The 12-0 run gives Serbia a three-point lead with 6:03 to play and the match has been close ever since.
Ana Dabovic (13 points, six assists, three steals) scored six points during the fourth quarter opener, including five-straight that tied the game. She converted a three-pointer with 8:16 left, and then Nevena Jovanovic converted a steal into an assist for Dabovic on a quick break 20 seconds later.
Jelena Brooks ran Serbia by 18 points, while Shao Ting scored a point of 17 to pass along with six rebounds, five assists and three steals in a defeat. Ting played for the Minnesota Lynx in 2019. New York Liberty Center Han Xu added 15 points and seven plates for China, while Li Yueru had 12 and six.
Serbia forced 23 turnovers on 14 rocks and won the battle in the paint 42-26. It won despite the 11-of-18 shooting on the line compared to China’s 18-of-21 effort.
Serbia and China are the number 8 and 9 teams in the world respectively. China were 3-0 in Group C and Serbia were 2-1 in Group A. Serbia will face the United States 40 minutes after midnight ET on Friday. This is the second time in a row and for the second time ever in the semi-finals, after winning bronze at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.