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NOVI SAD (FIBA U19 World Championship) - The United States came back from 19 points down but could not stop Serbia winning the FIBA U19 World Championship final 74-69 on their home soil.
Mladen Jeremic, who never left the court as he played the full 40 minutes, inspired the hosts' win with 24 points, including two in the final five seconds to put his side out of reach.
The outcome could have been much different had the US, chasing their first gold since 1991, not been so wasteful with their three-pointers, making just six of their 21 attempts (28.5%).
Stephen Flynn made only two of seven from the arc, showing a profligacy which would have disappointed his father, former NBA sharp shooter Dell Curry.
The game started slowly but Dusan Kalnic sank seven points in under five minutes to help Serbia to a 22-14 lead at the end of the first quarter.
A 14-3 scoring burst in the second period gave them a 19-point advantage shortly before the halfway stage.
That was the cue for the US to start their comeback though, and they scored 12 points without reply in a five-minute spell bridging the half-time buzzer to get back within sight of their opponents.
It was nip and tuck for the remainder of the third period, Jeremic sinking a lay-up in the dying seconds to give Serbia a 10-point lead going into the final 10 minutes.
Jeremic - who despite leading all scorers also missed seven of his 11 three-pointers - entered a lean spell in this quarter and where he failed, Deon Thompson succeeded, pouring in eight points on his way to a team-best total 16.
That helped his side back to within five points with 01:16 on the clock.
The final 30 seconds though, were littered with errors and fouls, and despite a late Curry three-pointer and Patrick Beverley's lay-up on the whistle, the United
States were left to wonder what might have been.