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Lithuania, Serbia to play for Rio Olympic men’s basketball spot

Jonas Valanciunas

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 08: (R) Jonas Valanciunas #14 of Lithuania reacts alongside Alexander Kaun #8 of Russia in the second half during the Men’s Basketball quaterfinal game on Day 12 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at North Greenwich Arena on August 8, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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Lithuania and Serbia, two nations with decades of international basketball tradition, will play for one Olympic berth in the EuroBasket semifinals on Friday.

In the quarterfinals Wednesday, Lithuania outlasted Italy 95-85 in overtime. Earlier, Serbia beat the Czech Republic 89-75.

Spain and France will play in the other EuroBasket semifinal in Lille, France, with an Olympic berth at stake Thursday. More on that showdown here.

The EuroBasket finalists qualify for the Rio Olympics. The third- through seventh-place finishers advance to global, last-chance qualifying tournaments in July, one month before the Olympics.

Serbia hasn’t qualified for an Olympic basketball tournament since it split from Montenegro before the Beijing 2008 Olympics. As part of Yugoslavia, it took silver at the Atlanta 1996 Olympics.

Serbia also fell to the U.S. in the final of the 2014 FIBA World Cup.

Lithuania lost in five straight Olympic semifinals from 1992 through 2008 and made the 2012 Olympic quarterfinals. Its EuroBasket roster includes Toronto Raptors big man Jonas Valanciunas and Gonzaga’s Domantas Sabonis, the son of longtime center Arvydas Sabonis.

The U.S., Brazil, Australia, Nigeria, Argentina and Venezuela are the first six nations in the 12-team Olympic field. The EuroBasket finalists and next month’s Asian champion will join them, plus three nations from the global, last-chance qualifying tournaments in July.

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