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Hosts set up Final date with defending champs
RIGA (FIBA U18 European Championship 2018) - The champions of the FIBA U18 European Championship 2018 will be either the hosts or the title-holders as Latvia and Serbia set up a Sunday Final showdown for the crown.
Latvia made history in the first Semi-Final at Arena Riga by knocking off Russia 91-80 to reach their first ever U18 Final. Arturs Zagars was on fire for the hosts with 35 points while Anrijs Miska had 17 points and Arturs Kurucs chipped in 12 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds and 3 steals. Russia could not take advantage of Alexander Shashkov's 24 points and 8 rebounds while Nikita Mikhailovskii had 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Latvia built up a nine-point lead early and then fell behind by 11 points in the second quarter, before changing up their defensive tactics and then taking advantage of a white-hot Zagars, who scored 13 points in the third quarter and then added 14 points in the fourth quarter.
"Yeah, I was feeling it tonight (laughs). In the second half I was a little on fire. I won't wash my hands tonight," said Zagars, whose 35 points were the best mark for this summer's U18 tournament.
Latvia's partner in the Final dance will be the reigning champions Serbia, who won comfortably 78-67 over France to return to the title game and aim at clinching their fourth crown under the Serbia flag. France had no answer for Serbia big man Marko Pecarski, who had 18 points and 8 rebounds at halftime en route to 27 and 12 for the game. Zoran Paunovic added 13 points and the third "Big P" Filip Petrusev chipped in 7 points, 9 rebounds and 6 rebounds.
Serbia pulled away in the second quarter and extended the lead to 20 points in the third quarter. France were able to trim the final result a bit to make it look more respectable. But Mathis Dossou Yovo, who had 12 points and 12 rebounds, just did not get enough help from his teammates.
Before the Semi-Finals took place at Arena Riga, Germany and Lithuania grabbed victories in the Classification 5-8 to set up a matchup for fifth place - and the final spot for the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 2019. Germany knocked off a Montenegro team that appeared to be out of energy 76-52, as Marco Hollersbacher's 12 points paced three Germans in double figures. Lithuania, for their part, got 18 points from Simas Jarumbauskas to lead five players in double figures in a 100-68 win over Great Britain.
In the Classification 13-16, Greece sent Ukraine to Division B with a 77-73 defeat as Konstantinos Tsirogiannis collected 22 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists. Andriy Grytsak picked up 23 points, 8 rebounds, 4 steals, 3 assists and 3 steals in the loss, which drops Ukraine back to Division B after two summers in the top flight.
Finland staved off relegation for at least one more day with a 79-55 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina. Ville Tahvanainen paced Finland with 22 points - on 6-of-10 three-pointers - while Mikael Jantunen had 15 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and 3 blocks. Bosnia and Herzegovina, who had 9 points from Nedim Omerovic and Marko Bosnjak, will head back to Division B after six summers in the top flight.
Finland are not safe yet as they must beat Greece in Sunday's Classification 13-14 to remain in Division A. Greece cannot be relegated as they are hosting the U18 tournament next summer, meaning if they lose then only two countries will go down to Division B and correspondingly only two teams will come up from Division B.
In the Classification 9-12, Italy defeated Turkey 79-69 as Omar Dieng had 13 points and 9 rebounds. They will play for ninth place against Spain, who beat Croatia 89-52 as Carlos Alocen collected 21 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds.
Latvia v Serbia
Russia v France
Germany v Lithuania
Montenegro v Great Britain
Italy v Spain
Turkey v Croatia
Greece v Finland
Ukraine v Bosnia and Herzegovina.