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Croatia take home gold after overtime drama, Estonia finish on the podium
TALLINN (FIBA U18 European Championship 2017, Division B) - Overtime was needed to decide the winner of the FIBA U18 European Championship 2017, Division B, with Croatia showing nerves of steel to take first place.
Led by Luka Samanic's 21 points, 8 rebounds, 4 steals, 3 blocks, Croatia built a wall late in the game, erasing Great Britain's 4-point lead in the last minute. After Samanic blocked Romario Spence's late shot, Mateo Dreznjak had a chance to win it at the buzzer, but his floater in traffic rimmed out.
Croatia found their overtime hero in Domagoj Saric. A three-pointer and a couple of pull-up shots were enough to put some daylight between the teams, and once Great Britain got back to within three, Samanic hit the dagger three-pointer to make it an 85-79 with 45 seconds to play.
It finished 90-84, Dreznjak's 23 points were a game-high. Saric finished with 18, Darko Bajo had 12, and Antonio Jordano was also in double figures with 11 points. Oluwasesan Russell had 20 points for Team GB; Spence put up a 17-point, 14-rebound double-double, but Jaydon Kayne Henry McCalla was kept quiet by Croatia's defense. The leading British scorer of the tournament was kept to just 4 points.
Both Croatia and Great Britain have won promotion to FIBA U18 European Championship 2018, Division A.
In the 3rd-Place Game, Kristian Kullamae scored 29 points and Matthias Tass filled the statsheet with 10 points, 18 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 blocks and 3 steals as Estonia defeated Israel 90-71 and won the bronze medal. Amit Ebo and Yair Kravits combined for 30 points in a losing effort for Israel.
Estonia and Israel will not advance to Division A. Latvia are hosting next summer's Division A event, therefore they could not be relegated to Division B on Sunday, even though they finished in the bottom three positions of FIBA U18 European Championship 2017, Division A.