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Clinical Serbia too much to handle for Spain in Final
BRATISLAVA (FIBA U18 European Championship 2017) - There was no stopping Serbia in the Final of the FIBA U18 European Championship 2017, with the Nikola Miskovic-led side sweeping away Spain Spain 74-62 in the second half of the gold medal duel at the Hant Arena in Bratislava.
Turning Point: After a slow start of the game, Serbia were lucky to find themselves down just 29-28 at the midway point of the game, having trailed by as many as 11 points in the first half of play. After intermission, however, Vlado Jovanovic's side took over control with the one-two punch of Miskovic and Marko Pecarski leading the way in a 21-11 third quarter.
Game Hero: The sound of the net swishing was a rare one for Nikola Miskovic in the Group Phase in Piestany but he was making all the big plays in the Final against Spain, collecting a game-high 23 points on 9-of-19 shots from the field, including three long range bombs.
Stats Don't Lie: Having taken care of the ball well throughout the tournament, Serbia did not succumb to the pressure of the title-decider and committed just 9 turnovers, compared to 16 giveaways by their Spanish opponents.
Bottom Line: It was Serbia's first victory in the FIBA U18 European Championship since 2009, when current head coach Jovanovic guided the core of Dejan Musli, Danilo Andjusic, Branislav Dekic and Nemanja Jaramaz to a first-place finish in France.
What They Said: "It's unbelievable; I cannot describe this feeling. I promised a podium for this team in June. We had been waiting for this for a long time. And not only did we earn a medal, but we got gold, the best one. We ended the game in our style, with a comeback. We already got used to that in this championship and it's great. These guys showed great character, great fight and I want to stick with them for long years to come." – Serbia forward Nikola Miskovic.
"It is amazing, I have never experienced something like this. We were very tight before the game, feeling the pressure. But it was positive pressure. We showed much more effort than them. We worked towards this during the whole tournament. The hashtag #gladnismo meant we were hungry and now we're in the middle of the court with the trophy and we're full. That was the point, we were hungry to win, we were hungry for medals, for the first place and now we've finished that.” – Serbia center Marko Pecarski.