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Germany create history, claim maiden title
UDINE (FIBA U18 Women’s European Championship 2018) – Leonie Fiebich led Germany to a historic maiden U18 Women's title on Sunday night, defeating Spain 67-54 in the Final.
Fiebich and tournament MVP Nyara Sabally took Germany out to a commanding 19-4 lead early, but when Sabally was helped, limping from the court, her All-Star Five teammate Fiebich, took over all responsibility, knocking down a buzzer-beating three on the half-time buzzer to have Germany up 43-24.
Spain rallied in the second half, but the gap would prove too big to bridge, leading to frenzied celebrations from the history-making Germans. Fiebich finished the final with a game-high 22 points.
Joining Sabally and Fiebich in the All-Star Five was unlucky loser from the Final, Maria Pendande, who had already showed her class earlier this summer at the FIBA U20 Women's European Championship in Hungary. Another to have played in Hungary and making the All-Star Five was Latvia's Aleksa Gulbe, whilst Hungarian guard Barbara Angyal rounded out the five.
The curtain-raiser to the Final produced some of the biggest drama to date in Udine, as Hungary barely held on for a 58-56 victory over Latvia in the Third-Place Game, marking their return to the podium for the first time since 2004, when they also finished third. The Hungarians had lead by as many as 12 points and appeared to be cruising towards victory, only for Nikola Ozola to bring Latvia storming back into the game with 13 third-quarter points. The ball then fell into her hands on the final play, however under heavy attention from the Hungarian defense, she could not get off her shot.
Another team celebrating on the tournament's final day was Belgium. Although they missed out on the Semi-Finals, the defending champions won their last two games, including a 68-27 win over Czech Republic on Sunday to claim the fifth and final European ticket available to next year's FIBA U19 Women's Basketball World Cup. They will be joined by Germany, Spain, Hungary and Latvia.
A day after making history with their maiden Division A victory, Ireland could not replicate the feat on Sunday, losing to Bosnia and Herzegovina 71-63, despite a remarkable final quarter comeback. The loss means relegation to Division B for 2019, along with Sweden and Slovenia, who already learned of their fate 24 hours earlier.
They will be replaced in Division A next season by Lithuania, Belarus and Israel, who finished first, second and third respectively, in the Division B championship, which was being played concurrently in Austria.
FIBA (fiba.basketball) - the world governing body for basketball - is an independent association formed by 213 National Basketball Federations throughout the world. It is recognized as the sole competent authority in basketball by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
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