BOCAUE, Bulacan – For the second straight year, it will be Serbia against the Netherlands for the gold medal in the FIBA 3x3 Basketball World Cup.
Powerhouse Serbia took the tough road to the finals, outlasting Poland in a come-from-behind fashion. The Netherlands joined them in the gold medal game a few minutes later by defeating second-seeded Slovenia.
Serbia 21, Poland 19
Serbia advanced to the finals in thrilling fashion, rallying from a seven-point deficit to break the hearts of Poland. The Polish raced out to a 13-7 lead, putting the two-time defending champions on the ropes before Dusan Bulut took over.
Serbia steadily trimmed the deficit, thanks to Bulut, who repeatedly drove to the rim for one-point buckets. His first two-pointer of the game gave Serbia its first lead, 15-14, before a lay-up then a jumper from Michael Hicks made it 17-15 for Poland.
A free throw and a lay-up by Marko Savic tied the game at 17, but all seemed lost for Serbia when Poland's Marcin Sroka drilled a cold-blooded two-pointer from the corner to make it 19-17.
Unfortunately for Poland, they were called for a technical foul in the ensuing possession, giving Bulut a free throw that he calmly took. Bulut then scored on a lay-up to tie the game at 19, but his potential go-ahead shot was blocked by Hicks with just two seconds left on their shot-clock.
That gave Dejan Majstrovic just enough time, however, as he drilled the game-winning jumper as the clock expired, sending the Serbian team into celebration while the Polish players sprawled to the court in shock.
Bulut scored nine points, while Majstorovic added six and Savic had five.
Hicks scored six points, Pawel Pawlowski scored five, while Szymon Rduch and Sroka each scored four points.
The Netherlands 21, Slovenia 16
Jesper Jobse sparked the Netherlands' rally from a slim deficit before Dimeo Van der Horst and Aron Roije took over down the stretch for the Dutch in their win over Slovenia.
Jobse scored inside, then drained a jumper to give the Netherlands the lead for good, 15-12. He later added another lay-up for a 17-13 count with just two minutes to go.
Gasper Ovnik's bucket with 1:36 to go made it a two-point game, 16-18, but Van der Horst responded with a booming two-pointer to put the Netherlands on the brink of victory. It was Roije who then put the finishing touches with a pull-up jumper to peg the final score.
Jobse finished with nine points, while Roije had six markers and Van der Horst scored four.
Ovnik led Slovenia with seven points. This was a rematch of last year's semifinals, which the Netherlands also won, 13-12.
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