KAYSERI, Turkey – Aleksandar Rasic made four free throws in the last 11 seconds Thursday to help Serbia upset top-ranked Argentina 84-82 and win Group A at the basketball world championship.
Argentina captain and Houston Rockets forward Luis Scola sank two free throws with 38 seconds left to make it 77-77, but Serbia's Dusko Savanovic hit a 3-pointer with 18 seconds remaining.
Savanovic led Serbia with 19 points and Oklahoma City Thunder center Nenad Krstic added 18 points and eight rebounds. Krstic played his second game after a three-game suspension for a brawl against Greece.
"If we can beat Argentina, we can beat anyone," Savanovic said.
Scola had 32 points, his fourth straight game of 30 or more. He is Argentina's all-time leading scorer at the worlds with 357 points. Ernesto "Finito" Gehrmann scored 331 points in the 1967 and 1974 events.
Both teams finished with 4-1 records.
Scola had 10 points in the fourth quarter, but Krstic and Savanovic combined for 22 while battling Argentina's top player. By bringing in Rasic near the end, Serbia made sure it had its strongest free-throw shooter on the floor.
Guard Milos Teodosic had the most playing time in the Serbian team, 28 minutes, and added 16 points. Serbia outrebounded Argentina 43-32.
"This was probably the best game so far," Serbia coach Dusan Ivkovic said. "We trailed 20-7 at the start and we came back to finish the first quarter only two behind."
"We have learned a lot from Argentina in the last 10 years, especially their fighting spirit," Ivkovic said. "We also learned that you can't relax even for a second against Argentina and their veterans."
Argentina coach Sergio Hernandez said "two of the best teams in the world showed great talent and big character and personality. It was a tough but fair game."
Hernandez waved away suggestions that the loss may benefit Argentina because its next game is not until Tuesday, while Serbia must play on Saturday.
"We don't care when we play, we don't care whom we play and we want to win every game," Hernandez said.
Argentina guard Pablo Prigioni said the extra time would help the team recover and allow center Fabricio Oberto, who has yet to play, to recover fully from a gastric flu and fever.
"This is the positive thing we can take from this game," Prigioni said.
Ivkovic complained that the scheduling punished the top team in the group and said it would be tough to recover, especially with travel to Istanbul.
"The team that stays in Istanbul has a definite advantage," he said.