The final weekend of the FIBA Europe U18 European Championship 2009 is behind us. The day featured of course the semi-finals but I had the time to check out some of the other games too.
- In the day opener, Germany had no problems to beat a Slovenian team that was really at the end of their tournament, basketball wise but also mentally. Several technical fouls and stupid mistakes marked their game and Germany was more than happy to take care of that and win the game without too much trouble. Danilo Barthel showed once again a good game, especially in the first half where he had 18 of his 23 points. Ole Wendt did a good job at the PG position while Philipp Neumann did the rebounding inside.
- After “surviving” a terrible first half between Latvia and Bulgaria (no spectators anymore in the gym except some scouts), I moved over to “Les Arènes” to follow the last minutes of Croatia versus Russia. Russia was up by more than 10 but Croatia made a run in the last minutes to close the gap but the last shot did not came from Toni Prostran and was missed. The Croatian guard finished with 21pts and 11rebs while Pavel Shavkunov was the top scorer for Russia with 16. So the Russians will play for the fifth spot tomorrow.
- In the first semi-final, Serbia managed to overcome a deficit in the last quarter in order to win it 66-61 against Turkey. The Turkish team can however blame themselves for not winning this one as they stopped to give the ball inside to Enes Kanter in the final minutes and tried to win the game from mid-range or three point land. Because Kanter was dominating Musli in the paint at a rarely seen level with 32pts and 25rebs. The Turkish Center was giving a post-play clinic in the first 30 minutes going for drives, hooks, jump shots and offensive rebounding. Dejan Musli was limited during that time but he came up big in the end with a important tip in and a block shot that sealed the deal in the end. Nemanja Jaramaz and especially Branislav Dekic took over the game in the last quarter for Serbia with some nice plays and they helped to reach final despite an offensively calm Musli with 14pts but 11rebs and 6blks.
- The second semi-final started off very well for both teams with good shots and high percentages. Jonas Valanciunas was unstoppable in the paint and the French tried many different defenders on him. But nobody could do anything against him so that Valanciunas finished the game with 37pts, 19rebs and 4 blocked shots. But that was not enough for Lithuania as the back-court disappointed tonight with 2 out 20 3 pointers. Additionally, Vytenis Cizauskas got hurt on his should in the first half and he played afterwards on slow motion. But let’s talk about the finalists from France. Mael Lebrun, who missed the first round with an injury is improving from game to game and he can be considered as the man of the match for the French team with 18pts, 4rebs and 3asts. He scored on a regular basis for France and did also a good job on defense. The Blues had already nearly won the game but in the last quarter, Lithuania came back in the game after being 12 down with a thunderous dunk from Valanciunas. The gap was closed step-by-step and after some incredible turn-overs vy France, Lithuania had the chances to even the game. Henri Kahudi gave them a last chance with a terrible drive to the basket which got rejected by Valanciunas with 34 seconds to go. But Lithuania could not score on the next offense and after a FT by Evan Fournier, it was the same Kahudi that corrected his mistake with a game deciding steal on Cizauskas which gave Lebrun the monster slam to seal the deal.
- Today, we could see Scouts from the New Jersey Nets and the San Antonio Spurs in Metz but there were some more that I could not identify in the two arenas.
- In Division B, Sweden managed to move up to Division A after beating England with 25pts of Andreas Person while Pierre Hampton had 18pts and 11rebs. For England, Levi Noel had 19. The second team that moves up to Division A is Poland after their 65-63 win over Montenegro. Sebastian Szymanski had 15pts while Hubert Wierzbicki had his best game of the tournament with 12pts and 13rebs. Both teams will replace Israel and Czech Republic in Division A.
- The Adidas Nations event will start in Dallas on Tuesday. For the European team, several players seen here in Metz will make the trip to the United States immediately after the tournament has ended as the European team, where the German U18 NT head-coach Kay Blümel assists former NBA legend Detlef Schrempf, will feature Linos Chrysikopoulos (Greece), Leo Westermann (France), Evan Fournier (France), Nimrod Tishman (Israel), Ivan Batur (Croatia) and Nikola Vukasovic (Serbia) who all played with their respective National Teams these last 10 days. Additionally, Henri Kahudi (France – RD Congo) and Mael Lebrun (France – Chad) will compete for the Adidas Nations Africa team. For the full list and all other rosters, click here