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FRA - Dabovic delight as Serbia punch first ticket
ORCHIES (Eurobasket Women/FIBA World Championship for Women) - A delighted Ana Dabovic could barely contain her excitement after Serbia reached the last four of Eurobasket Women 2013 and became the first team to advance to the FIBA World Championship for Women next summer.
The shooting guard may have been severely restricted by her knee injury throughout the nail-biting 85-79 Quarter-Final success against Italy, but she was jumping for joy when the final buzzer sounded as Serbia made history by qualifying for the first time.
"I can't even begin to describe what qualification to the FIBA World Championship for Women next year means for women's basketball in Serbia," said the guard with emotion in her voice.
“To qualify is just a dream, we can't believe that we will be playing in another major championship next year.
"It's amazing, but we always had belief that we could do it, even though Italy made it very difficult for us."
Certainly it will be a result that will be hard to digest for Italy and their head coach Roberto Ricchini.
His team had their noses in front for most of the contest due to some dazzling three-point shooting and a game-high 22 points from Giorgia Sottana.
At one stage, Italy had made 10 of their first 15 attempts from the perimeter as they shot the lights out, something which looked to be paving the way for a win.
But Serbia hung onto their shirt tails and came alive with a devastating finish as they cranked up the defensive pressure - something which facilitated a punishing 11-1 run to finish the game and kill off the Italians.
Whilst Serbia weren't hugely convincing at all, they still collected a stunning fifth win in a row, which means they are now just one step from the Final of EuroBasket Women and can look forward to having two bites at landing a medal.
Head coach Marina Maljkovic was also thrilled after the game and quick to highlight the enormity of the result.
"It is a historical win for us, I want to express our great happiness," she said.
"Italy have a fantastic group of players, and my colleague is a very good and experienced coach.
"Today we wrote history and now some people will know in Serbia what women's basketball is."
Italy meanwhile must pick themselves up as they still have a chance to book their berth for the World Championship for Women next year.