Olympics: Serbia rout Australia to reach first basketball final

Serbian players celebrate their win after the men's Basketball semi-final game between Australia and Serbia.
Serbian players celebrate their win after the men's Basketball semi-final game between Australia and Serbia.PHOTO: EPA

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Serbia stormed to an early lead then held on to rout Australia 87-61 on Friday and advance to the gold medal game of the men's Olympic basketball tournament for the first time as an independent nation.

Tiny Serbia will now take on basketball superpower United States on Sunday in a David versus Goliath final.

The only team with a losing record (2-3) to make it out of the group stage, Serbia caught Australia flat-footed holding the misfiring Boomers to just five points in the opening quarter, then put them in a 35-14 half-time hole they could never escape.

Australia, who had the better of the Serbs in preliminary play, taking a 95-80 win, were simply overwhelmed in the rematch, trailing by as much as 30 in the final quarter.

Milos Teodosic paced Serbia with 22 points while Stefan Markovic had 14.

While Serbia will be making their first appearance in the gold medal game, they bring a deep basketball pedigree to the final.

As part of the rump of former Yugoslavia, consisting of Serbia and Montenegro, they beat the U.S. in the quarter-finals of the 2002 world championships on the way to the gold, and were beaten for a silver by the Americans at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

At the 2014 World Cup Serbia won their first medal as an independent nation, again taking silver.