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Today’s picks (Final day live from Metz)

August 2nd, 2009 · No Comments

The FIBA Europe U18 European Championship 2009 is in the books now. So we go for a last daily roundup before attacking the detailed player scoutings during the next week.

  • The day started with a a nice Italy versus Croatia which was for me a first chance to see an Italian team against Croatia. And Italy managed to beat a Croatian team that seemed to be at the end of their forces. Even if Toni Prostran added another double-double with 23pts and 12asts, it was not enough against the Italian team effort where Achille Polonara saved his best game for the last with 20pts and 11rebs. He got good support by the tiny PG Andrea de Nicolao who finished with 19pts and 5asts. Dragan Sekelja connected for 14pts in the paints in his typical unorthodox style while Ante Cutura scored 14pts before being fouled out and getting the additional technical. The play of the game came from the Arena Speaker though who managed to organize a “La Ola” with the handful of people in attendance.
  • Spain finally picked the fifth place in the tournament in another team effort that however displayed the lack of extraordinary talent in their roster to take over them team to another level. Ignacio Llovet had 14pts and 8rebs but he is not the outstanding prospect, Alberto Jodar had 14 too but he had his worst game of the tournament when it counted the most (quarter final against Turkey). Joan Sastre finished with 14 too for the Spaniards. On the Russian side, Nikita Barinov had a nice 21pts effort while Dimitry Kulagin who looks like the most interesting talent out of the group earned a double-double with 15pts and 10rebs and an additional 5asts.
  • The Bronze medal went to Turkey in the end after beating Lithuania 95-74. The game had an important point already in the first half when Jonas Valanciunas got his third foul very early and was then benched. He finished the game with just 14pts and 5rebs. And as the Lithuanian shooters were still not hitting (5/18 3pts and 15/25FTs), it was tough to beat a Turkish team that totally took over the game in the second half. It was the guard duo of Maxim Mutaf and Safak Edge that were the main actors of a 7/8 3pt shots in the second 20 minutes. Enes Kanter was doing what he wanted in the paint and finished with another nearly double-double-double at 35pts,19rebs, 3stls and 4blks. Lithuania goes home now with a disappointing 4th place for a team that looked like huge favorite for Gold in the Preliminary rounds. But two poor shooting games destroyed their hopes to get a medal. The terrible FT shooting was even more amplified by the factor that a random Lithuanian fan from the attendance scored 10 out 15 FTs in a time-out game. Turkey, that started badly into the tournament improved when it counted and managed to win a Bronze medal behind the extraordinary talent of Kanter, a dynamic back-court and role players like Burat Yüksel, Firat Töz or Furkan Aldemir who did a great job on defense.
  • The final of this year’s edition of the U18 European Championship faced of Serbia and France. Serbia started the game well even if they had some trouble with their inside dominator Dejan Musli who turn the ball over several times in double team situations. A second quarter run by the French helped them to comeback but Serbia managed to stay ahead until halftime behind the 10pts of shooter Danilo Andusic while Evan Fournier led France with 7pts after 20 minutes. In the second half then, Serbia remained ahead with Branislav Dekic doing his job and showing his versatility while Musli was dominating the rebound. Andusic continued to hit his threes and everything looked like Serbia would bring this one home. But the French team showed a big heart in the last quarter when they came back in the game after multiple offensive efforts of Mael Lebrun. A technical interruption of several minutes 2min22 before the end stopped the French run but Evan Fournier took over control immediately after the game restarted. But Serbia was calm in the final seconds and made their free throws. Andusic finished the game with 22pts and 5/11 three pointers while Musli had 14pts and 14rebs. So finally, Serbia won the Gold Medal after improving over the tournament. 34 scouted games on DVD by their coaching staff are one of small pieces that made this title possible.
  • As the press did not get asked to vote for the All-Tournament Team, here is my private unofficial choice: Leo Westermann (France), Evan Fournier (France), Danilo Andusic (Serbia), Enes Kanter (Turkey), Dejan Musli (Serbia)
  • The official Fairplay price went to Jonas Valanciunas (Lithuania)
  • The official All-tournament team: Toni Prostran (Croatia), Evan Fournier (France), Jonas Valanciunas (Lithuania), Enes Kanter – MVP (Turkey), Dejan Musli (Serbia)
  • An All-Star game with the 24 best players of the tournament will be played during the Eurobasket 2009 in Poland. The five members of the U18 European Championship 2009 Division B All Tournament team and the MVP of the Division C will then be added to that selection to form a group of 30. More info on this event can be found here.

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