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Defensive ace Luka Samanic voted MVP, headlines All-Star Five team
TALLINN (FIBA U18 European Championship 2017, Division B) - Croatia won gold, and the man leading them to the highest step of the podium was voted tournament MVP.
Luka Samanic, a 17-year-old power forward, averaged 13.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, but his influence was felt more on the defensive end, with 1.8 steals and 1.6 blocks every time he took the floor.
Samanic kept rising as the FIBA U18 European Championship, Division B, was getting closer to the end, and his clutch blocks forced overtime in the Final. Even though he shot just 22.2 percent from beyond the arc, he connected on a three-pointer that sealed the deal for Croatia with less than a minute to go in the extra five minutes of the Final.
Samanic is a product of KK Zagreb's basketball academy, and has played the last season at FC Barcelona in Spain. His father Marko was a professional player in Croatia, Slovenia, Germany, Belgium, among other European countries.
Samanic also headlines the All-Star Five, and is joined by one other participant from. Great Britain's leading scorer Jaydon Kayne Henry McCalla averaged 14.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.9 steals per contest, including a 35-point explosion against Luxembourg in Group Phase.
Mathias Tass of Estonia is also in the All-Star Five, with three tournament double-doubles to his name, while Amit Ebo of Israel got voted in after 11.9 points and 5.6 assists per game.
The only All-Star Five member that hasn't reached the Semi-Finals is Ivan Alipiev. The sharp-shooting Bulgarian was in double figures in all eight outings, getting a 20.5 scoring average on 47.8 percent shooting from the field.