Serbia, Latvia win at European championship

NESHA STARCEVIC (AP Sports Writer)
The Associated PressSeptember 11, 2013
Serbia, Latvia win at European championship
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Ukraine's Ihor Zaytsev, left, and Viacheslav Kravstov, right, try to block Latvia's Janis Blums during their EuroBasket European Basketball Championship Group E match in Ljubljana, Slovenia, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

LJUBLJANA, Slovenia (AP) -- Guard Stefan Markovic scored five straight points to help Serbia defeat Belgium 76-69 Wednesday at the European basketball championship.

With Serbia up by two, Markovic made a 3-pointer and two free throws to give his team a seven-point lead with less than 2 minutes on the clock.

Serbia's captain and center Nenad Krstic led the team with 17 points. Serbia struggled against Belgium, but took a big step toward securing a slot in the quarterfinals.

''Maybe we were a little relaxed going into the match because we knew that we already had four points (in the standings),'' said Krstic, a former Boston Celtics player.

Earlier, sharp-shooting Latvia kicked off the second round by cruising past Ukraine 85-51.

The Latvians made 15 of 29 3-point attempts, while Ukraine hit only 3 of 16. Latvia shot 58.6 percent for the game, compared with 29.5 percent for Ukraine.

''They dominated every facet of the game,'' Ukraine coach Mike Fratello said. ''To lose by 34 is an embarrassment for everyone in the locker room.''

Kristaps Janicenoks led Latvia with 14 points, and Martins Meiers had 11 points and 10 rebounds. Sergii Gladyr was the only Ukrainian player to score in double figures with 12.

''We got some easy baskets,'' Latvia coach Ainars Bagatskis said.

Ukraine won four of its five group games but came up short against Latvia's speed. Both teams are 1-2. Serbia is 3-0 and Belgium 0-3.