Croatia beats Ukraine to reach Euro semis

NESHA STARCEVIC (AP Sports Writer)
The Associated Press

LJUBLJANA, Slovenia (AP) -- Croatia beat Ukraine 84-72 Thursday to reach the semifinals of the European basketball championship for the first time in 18 years.

Croatia will play either Lithuania or Italy. France and two-time defending champion Spain will play the other semifinal on Friday.

Shooting guard Krunoslav Simon scored 23 points for Croatia, which went on a key 13-0 run in the second quarter.

Croatia is seeking to make the podium for the first time since it took bronze at the 1995 tournament in Greece.

Dontaye Draper, Croatia's American-born point guard, had two steals and six points in a run at the start of the second quarter, when Ukraine failed to score in five minutes and had three turnovers while missing five straight 3-point attempts.

Croatia led by as many as 19. Simon's layup to make it 77-65 secured Croatia's win.

Pooh Jeter, another American-born point guard, had 19 points for Ukraine, which was in the quarterfinals for the first time.

Earlier, Slovenia earned a place in next year's World Cup by beating Serbia 92-74.

Zoran Dragic scored 23 points for Slovenia in a game between two quarterfinal losers. Slovenia will play for fifth place and Serbia will face Ukraine for seventh on Saturday.

Seventh place will be enough for a spot at the World Cup because host Spain is a direct qualifier and is already in the European semifinals.

Slovenia outscored Serbia 30-16 in the first quarter and held on to win.

Nenad Krstic had 16 for Serbia, which went 2-for-18 from 3-point range.

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