Serbia men’s basketball holds off rival Croatia, sets up Olympic semifinal against Australia

AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
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Serbia consoled Bogdanovic.

Thankfully for the Serbs, it was Bojan Bogdanovic.

Serbia beat Croatia 86-83 in an Olympic men’s basketball quarterfinal Wednesday, a premier stage for the rivals that were both part of the former Yugoslavia. Serbia, which faces Australia in a semifinal Friday, is now one win from its first men’s basketball Olympic medal as Serbia.  Serbia and Montenegro won silver in 1996. (Yugoslavia won a gold, three silvers and a bronze.)

Croatia, which trailed by 14 in the fourth quarter, cut the deficit to one with a few minutes left. But it couldn’t get closer, including during a foul fest in the final minute.

Bojan Bogdanovic – who was drafted No. 31 in 2011 played for Nets last two seasons – led Croatia with 28 points and exits Rio with a tournament-high 152 points. With a 41-point lead over second-place Kevin Durant, Bogdanovic might even hold his lead another round – or two. But his dejection after the comeback fell short was so apparent, Serbian players seemed to tell him to keep his head up.

They didn’t need to tell Bogdan Bogdanovic, who led Serbia with 18 points and added five assists, no turnovers and three steals before fouling out. This Bogdanovic – who was drafted No. 27 by Suns in 2014, and had his rights trades to Kings on draft day this year – circled the court high-fiving fans.

Confusing? A little.

But this is clear: Serbia is advancing, and Croatia is done.