Australia Comes Up Short in Semis

July 6, 2013

PRAGUE, Czech Republic - Boise State incoming freshman Nicholas Duncan scored 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds, but it was not enough to lift Australia past Serbia Saturday, in the semifinals of the FIBA U19 World Championship. The Emus fell 63-58, a day after upsetting Spain to reach the final four.

Australia will play for the bronze medal Sunday, at 10 a.m. (MT) against Lithuania, which lost to the United States in the other semifinal matchup.

Serbia led by six on multiple occasions in the fourth quarter, including as late as the three-minute mark. Australia did not go away, scrapping to the very end. A breakaway layup by Duncan with 1:11 left made it a two-point game at 54-52.

The teams traded big shots until Australia battled all the way back to get within one with 25 seconds to play. Serbia split its trip to the free throw line and left the door open for Australia to tie or go ahead with the shot clock (24 seconds in FIBA-sanctioned games) turned off.

Instead of allowing the Emus to play for the last shot, Serbia opted to foul with 16 seconds left and send Australia to the free throw line for a chance to tie. Australia’s free throw woes continued, missing both to fall to 5-for-13 at the stripe on the game. Duncan fouled out fighting for the rebound and his stat-stuffing night was over. He finished with 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting, including 2-for-4 beyond the arc, to go with seven rebounds, two steals, a block and an assist.

Serbia iced the game going 3-for-4 on ensuing trips to the free throw line.

Duncan knocked down a step-back three in the first quarter as Australia ran out to an 18-11 lead after 10 minutes. Serbia quickly got it all back with a 13-0 run to start the second. Duncan hit a hook shot to stop the bleeding, then grabbed an offensive rebound and buried another three-pointer to get the Emus back within three. Serbia regained control for the final three minutes of the period and the Europeans held a 32-25 advantage at halftime.

Serbia built its lead to 10 midway through the third period. A 12-4 run from Australia made it a one-possession game before Serbia beat the buzzer with a runner for a 47-43 advantage going into the final 10 minutes of play.

Neither team could seize momentum in the early going of the fourth quarter. It took four minutes for either side to hit a field goal. Australia’s first was another Duncan hook shot in the lane. Then the final four minutes was full of dramatic possessions on both ends.

The Emus finished the game 9-for-24 (37.5 percent) from three-point land, but actually shot a better percentage from beyond the arc than inside it (13-for-35, 37.1 percent).

Boise State rising junior Igor Hadziomerovic and the Australia Emerging Boomers begin play in the World University Games Sunday, against the Czech Republic.

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