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Serbia repeat title in thriller for the ages over Latvia, France third, Lithuania get U19 World Cup ticket
RIGA (FIBA U18 European Championship 2018) - Serbia repeated the FIBA U18 European Championship title by downing hosts Latvia in a thriller for the ages while France took third place and Lithuania claimed Europe's final spot in the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 2019 with a fifth-placed finish.
The big man combo of Marko Pecarski and Filip Petrusev, and guard Zoran Paunovic were just too much as Serbia beat Latvia 99-90 for their fourth U18 crown following 2007, 2009 and 2017.
Pecarski, who won the tournament's Most Valuable Player award, collected 34 points and 13 rebounds while Petrusev, who joined him on the All-Star Five, added 29 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists. Paunovic for his part chipped in with17 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists. The Serbians overpowered Latvia on the glass with a 55-24 rebounding advantage.
Latvia tried to counter the Serbian size with outside shooting, hitting 15-of-37 three-pointers. But they did not have enough firepower. All-Star Five selection Arturs Zagars did pour in 26 points to go with 11 assists while Valters Veveris had 20 points and Arturs Kurucs addedd 14 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists.
Serbia opened a 13-point lead in the first quarter and it was 18 points in the second quarter, and it looked like the big man combo would leave Latvia without a chance. But the hosts fought their way back into the game early in the second half with their long bombers.
Latvia could never grab the lead but with the help of 7,000 spectators in Arena Riga, Zagars and Co. kept things close. The deficit was only 6 points in the final minute but the hosts in the end had to be happy with their first-ever U18 silver medal.
France grabbed the bronze medal with a 79-70 win over Russia as Joel Ayayi poured in 22 points while Mathis Dossou Yovo collected 21 points and 10 rebounds. The four-time champions France picked up just their second medal since 2009. Russia still only have one U18 medal - the 2010 silver - in their trophy case despite 16 points and 8 rebounds from Nikita Mikhailovskii.
In the Classification 5-6, Lithuania were never challenged in knocking off Germany 83-55 to book the fifth and final ticket to the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 2019. Deividas Sirvydis scored 20 points and Rokas Jokubaitis added 10 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals.
The first two teams to be relegated were decided on Saturday and the final day was to see if Finland could stave off the drop to Division B. They did just that as Ville Tahvanainen drained 8 three-pointers in scoring 35 points in an 89-85 OT overtime win over Greece, who could not be relegated as hosts of the U18 tournament next summer.
Great Britain came back from a 10-point deficit after three quarters to knock off Montenegro 70-68 and finish a best-ever seventh place. Nate Robinson paced Great Britain with 19 points. Spain won 9th place with an 80-62 win over Italy thanks to 16 points and 6 assists from Didac Cuevas.. Croatia finished 11th with a 74-72 win in overtime against Turkey with Jan Palokaj hitting the game-winner with 3 seconds to play, as he had 11 points, 11 assists and 7 rebounds. Ukraine finished their tournament on a high note with a 94-88 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina in the game for 15th place.
Latvia v Serbia 90-99
Russia v France 70-79
Germany v Lithuania 83-55
Great Britain v Montenegro 70-68
Italy v Spain 62-80
Turkey v Croatia 72-74 OT
Finland v Greece 89-85 OT
Bosnia and Herzegovina v Ukraine 88-94