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U18 European Championships 2011: the Finals

July 31st, 2011 · No Comments

The last day in Wroclaw started with a visit to the second gym to follow the games for the 9-12th place before heading to the medal round. The teams competing for these places have some decent talent in their rosters so it was a good opportunity to get an update on them.

The day begun with the game between Slovenia and Germany. The team of coach Blümel got a quick lead that they increased throughout the first two quarters but the Slovenes did not give up and hit two consecutive three-pointers before the halftime to reduce the lead of Germany to only 11 points. During the third quarter, Luka Rupnik was more or less the only serious scorer for the Slovenian team so that Germany could increase their lead to 14 points before the last ten minutes. Dennis Schröder played a very good game that far and created a lot of good opportunities for either himself or his team mates. Slovenia had some spurts through their three-point shooting but Germany brought this one home in the end.

In the game for the 9th place, Russia started a lot better as Latvians looked really out of the game being unable to make any kind of shot. Aleksandr Gudumak showed his shooting touch in the paint for Russia in the first quarter and they went up without being great though. Latvia brought in some reserve players and switched to a zone defense which helped them to reduce the gap despite still being not good in shooting. At halftime, Russia was still up 26-22. Latvia started better in the second half and took the lead on two consecutive dunks by Guntis Sipolins and Roberts Krumins. They guarded the lead until the middle of the last quarter where Russia tied the game again. The lead grew to as much as 6 points and Russia finished on the 9th place behind a nice game of Vladislav Trushkin who had 15pts and 15rebs.

Italy – Turkey 65-69

Italy started better in the game with their typical playing style and the presence of Amedeo della Valle dressed to play was certainly a plus for their motivation. Mattia Magrini was their man in the beginning as the hard-nosed defender made also a couple of good plays on offense that forced Turkey to take a first timeout after 6 minutes. Francesco Veccia added his threes as well but Turkey came back under the lead of Kenan Sipahi who directed their game pretty well. After the first ten minutes, Italy was only up 2 points 21-19.

Della Valle made a short appearance at the start of the second quarter that Turkey used to go ahead by 2 points. But Italy could turn it around again as Veccia continued his shooting festival and had already 14 points after just 14 minutes. Amedeo Tessitori added two dunks and the Azzurri were up 8 points which was followed by a Turkish timeout. This did not change much on the game situation as Italy defended their lead to the halftime break with Matteo Imbrò running the point guard very well.

This time, it was Turkey again who had the better start as they cut the lead behind the drives of Tayfun Erülkü. Sipahi hit the three-pointer from the corner and Turkey was only within one point after 5 minutes. Both teams struggled to score during several minutes but Turkey had two triples against the Italian zone which gave them a first lead at 50-48. Raphael Gaspardo though hit the difficult shot on the buzzer so that the game was within one point before the last 10 minutes.

Italy got a great start with two long distance shots in a row to start the decisive quarter that remained unanswered at first. As Imbrò scored a mid-range jump shot after an offensive rebound, the Italians were up again 58-51 and Turkey needed a timeout. The Turks cut the lead but Imbrò had another huge three-pointer out of the fast break which gave them the more secure gap again. But Samet Geyik, Erbil Eroglu and Erülkü answered with 6 consecutive points to bring it to a two point difference. Eroglu found Ahmet Tuncer on the back door to tie the game and Erülkü score the huge three-pointer with 40 seconds left on the clock. Tessitori scored two free-throws out of the timeout and it was again Turkey ball. They could not find a good shot but Eroglu rejected the layup attempt by Magrini on the fast break. Tuncer made the first free-throw but Turkey got the ball back on the next one on a diving safe by Imbrò into the chairs. Berkay Candan made the two from the line and Bronze went to Turkey.

MVP: Erbil Eroglu 5pts, 7rebs, 6asts

Serbia – Spain

The game started pretty slowly as both teams did not find the easy shots in the beginning. Spain made the first little break when Guillermo Hernan-Gomez scored inside with the foul to go up 7-4. The absence of Nemanja Bezbradica did not seem to be a problem for Serbia as Nemanja Miskovic did his job very well in the paint. Daniel Diez was already in energy-modus as the Spanish forward had his hands in nearly every hustle situation or offensive rebound. Nenad Miljenovic came into the game and he showed immediately his excellent understanding of Pick and Roll situations. Spain did not dominate the offensive rebound as the previous games which made it a close game throughout the first quarter.

Spain went up 6 points in the beginning of the second quarter on some good opportunities in the paint for Julen Olaizola but Nikola Jankovic answered with some of his typical points close to the basket. Both teams traded baskets and no one could really take a bigger lead. Miljenovic found the basket on several occasions from mid-range while Spain was well driven by Jorge Sanz. The game speed was more in Serbia’s favor as the Balkan team played the shot clock often down and avoided the Spanish fast breaks. But the players around Jaime Fernandez held their advance even if it was only very small. Sanz scored 4 points from the free-throw line that were answered by a three from Nemanja Krstic but the Spanish guard added another two points to put the score to 43-36 in their favor at halftime.

Serbia came better out of the locker room as Luka Mitrovic and Vasilije Micic reduced the gap to only 1 point. But Spain did not give it up as Alex Abrines scored the dunk on the drive that was followed by a bad inbound of Micic. Sanz, who was playing very well that far, used it to score the three-pointer that brought the score 50-44 in their favor. Serbia improved their defense so that Spain had problems to score. Miljenovic and Micic could reduce the gap to only three points before the last 10 minutes.

The Spanish guards Sanz and Fernandez were the first scorers of the 4th quarter so that they went ahead 58-51 with 8 minutes to go. Jankovic suffered in the paint on several occasions on offense and the Serbian coaches decided to have Miljenovic on the bench in that crucial phase of the game with Spain being up 8 points. Mitrovic scored a tough drive with the foul and made Fernandez miss a drive. Diez scored the important one for Spain while Sanz had a brick after a score by Micic on the drive. Fernandez beat Miljenovic without a problem on the drive and the Serbian guard missed his attack on the other side so that Spain had a 4 point advantage on the 2 minutes mark. Micic scored the superb basket after the spin but Alejandro Suarez kept the ball alive for Spain on a massive offensive rebound. Mitrovic struggled from the free-throw line and missed both of his attempts. Abrines could only hit one of the shots and Serbia tried the difficult shot from behind the arc which did not go in. Sanz scored both from the line again and we had a 7 points difference with 27 seconds left. This was too much and Spain won the Gold medal, the second one for this generation after the U16 Gold of 2009.

MVP: Jorge Sanz 22pts (6/18 FGs – 9/12 FTs), 6rebs, 1ast

All-Tournament Team

  • PG – Vasilije Micic (Serbia)
  • SG – Nenad Miljenovic (Serbia)
  • SF – Alejandro Abrines (Spain) (MVP)
  • PF – Daniel Diez (Spain)
  • C – Przemyslaw Karnowski (Poland)

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