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Italy make history with gold; Spain take bronze, Croatia suffer relegation
KAUNAS (FIBA U16 Women’s European Championship 2018) - Italy took their first-ever title at this level after a dramatic final, while Spain beat Turkey for bronze and Croatia lost heavily to Belgium to drop to Division B.
Italy held a 22-point lead late in the third quarter and looked to be coasting home after a dominant performance. But Czech Republic went on an 18-0 run and eventually cut the lead to three points behind a barrage of three-pointers.
But they could not get any closer, with Meriem Nasraoui scoring three huge buckets down the stretch to allay their nerves, ending with a game-high 15 points. Tournament MVP Caterina Gilli had 9 points, 7 boards, 3 assists and 3 steals, and Ilaria Panzera added a double-double in a fantastic all-round performance of 11 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists and 7 steals, as Italy held on 60-52,
Spain dominated Turkey in the Third-Place Game to take the bronze medal and deny Turkey a first-ever medal at this level. Turkey missed star forward Melek Uzunoglu, who went down injured early in the Semi-Final, and despite the best efforts of Sude Yilmaz, who was named to the tournament All-Star Five, the Turkish team were overwhelmed by the brilliant Spanish defense in the fourth quarter as Spain pulled away for a 64-47 victory.
France comfortably beat Russia for 5th place, and Hungary claimed 7th after defeating Poland. Latvia took down Germany in a thriller for 9th place, and hosts Lithuania scored a last-day victory with Simona Visockaite’s late free throw beating Denmark.
Belgium dominated Croatia to secure their Division A status for 2019. Serbia repeated their opening-day victory over Netherlands to leave the latter winless for the tournament – both will join Croatia in Division B in 2019.