ISTANBUL (Reuters) - World championship hosts Turkey and dark horses Serbia advanced to the semi-finals in contrasting fashion after both teams produced scintillating performances to beat their rivals.
An audacious three-pointer by guard Milos Teodosic from nine meters with three second remaining handed Serbia a 92-89 win over holders Spain, while Turkey blew away Slovenia 95-68 to send a passionate home crowd into raptures.
Teodosic, who was suspended for the opening two games after a brawl with Greek rivals in a pre-tournament friendly, made amends for his patchy form with a killer blow after Spain had rallied from an eight-point deficit.
Having struggled with his long range-shooting throughout the tournament, Teodosic sank the game-winning shot with a Spanish defender in his face after Serbia almost lost possession.
The win also gave Serbia sweet revenge for last year's emphatic defeat to the Spaniards in the European championship final and their coach Dusan Ivkovic said the players deserved all the credit for their hard work and team spirit.
"The glory belongs to the players. It was easily our best match here, we have improved considerably in only a year and I am just happy to have been in charge of this great group for the past three years," he told Serbian television.
His counterpart Sergio Scariolo was graceful in defeat and heaped praised on Teodosic.
"We didn't foul him to retrieve possession because if you believe in your defense, your defense will be there for the last shot," he told a news conference.
"It took a nine-meter shot to beat us and Teodosic really shot it from downtown after he was well defended until the last moment. It was a great shot and he is a great player."
Forwards Novica Velickovic and Marko Keselj led Serbia with 17 points each, Nemanja Bjelica added 14 while Teodosic, who made only two of his eight three-point efforts, finished with 12 and eight assists.
The Turks stretched their unbeaten record to 7-0 after tidal waves of three-pointers, fast breaks and offensive rebounds swept away the Slovenians, who took an early 10-6 lead.
Turkey replied with a 21-4 run, their advantage soared to 71-43 at the end of the third quarter and they finished with their foot on the gas pedal, having grabbed 27 offensive boards and sunk 10 shots behind the arc from 17 attempts.
Their forward Ersan Ilyasova, wearing a mask to protect a facial injury, had 19 points after hitting three three-pointers from four attempts and four of his team mates provided the support with double scoring digits.
"We have achieved a historic success with an impeccable performance," Turkey's Serbian coach Bogdan Tanjevic told a news conference after steering his team to a maiden semi-final berth in their third world championship appearance.
"We face a truly great rival for a berth in the grand final and I dare not think about a medal yet because the ladder is getting steeper and you have to climb it one step at a time."
Turkey enjoyed their only podium finish in any major event when they won the silver at the 2001 European championship on home soil.
(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic in Belgrade; Editing by Alison Wildey)