LITHUANIA beat the US at the 1998 world championships, then failed to medal. Lithuania then beat the US again at the 2004 Olympics, then failed to medal.
And history will repeat itself at this World Cup.
Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 18 of his 21 points in the first half and Serbia topped previously unbeaten Lithuania, 87-68, in the World Cup quarterfinals on Tuesday—a result that means Lithuania cannot medal in Manila this weekend. The best Lithuania can do now is fifth place.
It continues a peculiar jinx for Lithuania, which is 3-8 all-time against the US at the senior men’s national level—and has turned those three wins into exactly zero medals.
Lithuania was playing less than 48 hours after beating the US, 110-104, to close out second-round play in Manila.
Serbia (5-1) will play Canada or Slovenia in Friday’s semifinals. The Canada-Slovenia quarterfinal game is Wednesday—the loser plays Lithuania (5-1) in the consolation playoffs Thursday.
Teams cannot medal after losing in the quarterfinals, but will play two more games before leaving Manila to determine fifth through eighth place in the tournament’s overall standings.
Serbia is in the semifinals for the third time at the last four World Cups. It lost to Turkey in the semifinals of the 2010 tournament (and then fell to Lithuania in the bronze-medal game) and lost to the US in the title game of the 2014 event.
Serbia played with forward Borisa Simanic’s jersey draped over a chair in its bench area. Simanic lost a kidney after being elbowed in a game against South Sudan last week; he needed surgery after that game, and complications prompted doctors to operate again Sunday and remove the damaged kidney.
Image credits: AP