Lithuania ended Serbia's unbeaten run to reach the final ©AFP/Getty Images

Lithuania reached their second straight EuroBasket final and sealed the final Rio 2016 berth available at the tournament by narrowly overcoming Serbia 67-64 in Lille.

Following the drama of last night’s opening semi-final where Spain defeated the hosts France in overtime, the crowd in the Pierre Mauroy Stadium were expecting more of the same between the 2013 runners-up and an unbeaten Serbia team.

The early running in the match was made by the Lithuanian team, who had progressed to the last four with a thrilling overtime win over Italy, as they opened up a 22-17 lead at the end of the opening quarter to give them a platform to build upon.

It looked as though they would start to pull clear of their opponents when Mindaugas Kuzminskas put them into an 11-point lead as the Lithuanians scored six unanswered points in the initial minutes of the second quarter.

However, by its close the scoreline was looking much tighter as the Serbians responded to their predicament by embarking on a run in which they scored 11 points to Lithuania’s measly one to leave the semi-final delicately poised at the break, with Lithuania holding just a 35-34 advantage.

Another momentum shift saw Lithuania begin to pull away again, with the Serbian team’s free throw shooting proving mostly inaccurate and they would be made to pay for their profligacy.

A late rally and a superb three pointer from Milos Teodosic, who ended the game as his team’s top scorer, threatened to bring Serbia back into the match with just a point to make up inside the final 15 seconds, but successful free throws from Mantas Kalnietis and Renaldas Seibutis gave Lithuania a 67-64 win.

The tightly fought semi-final went to the wire
The tightly fought semi-final went to the wire ©AFP/Getty Images

"We want to show that we are not in the final by accident," said Kuzminskas afterwards.

"We are showing that Lithuanian basketball is great even when we miss good players, even if Linas Kleiza, Donatas Motiejunas or Martynas Pocius are not playing we can do something good.

“It shows the strength of Lithuanian basketball."

They will be hoping for a repeat of the 2003 final when they beat Spain in Sweden to earn their third title and the two Rio 2016 bound teams will meet following Serbia’s third place play-off with France.

The beaten semi-finalists will have a second chance at earing a Rio 2016 berth having booked their place in the qualifying tournament as a result of their EuroBasket performance and they will be joined by the Czech Republic after they recorded a 97-70 win over Latvia in their classification match.

Having already beaten the Czech Republic in an early classification tie Italy also have a spot at the tournament, alongside African nations Angola, Senegal and Tunisia, as well as Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico and New Zealand.

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