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Israel claim historic title at FIBA U20 European Championship
CHEMNITZ (FIBA U20 European Championship 2018) – Israel have written history at the FIBA U20 European Championship 2018, winning the country’s first-ever title at any FIBA competition.
Having finished runners-up at last year’s edition in Crete, the Israeli side stepped atop the podium this time around, defeating Croatia in the Final 80-66.
Their opponents wrote history themselves by winning their maiden medal at U20 level, but saw their undefeated run come to a halt in the title game. Croatia struggled to find their shot from outside, going a meagre 6-of-32 from beyond the arc, and fell behind 45-34 at half-time.
Paced by their dynamic guards and feeding off their team play that paved the way to the Final, Israel maintained the lead until the end.
Yovel Zoosman was named MVP of the tournament, with teammate Deni Avdija - at 17-years-old the youngest player in Chemnitz - joining him on the All-Star Five. The lineup was rounded out by Croatian guard Mate Kalajzic, and German duo Kostja Mushidi and Filip Stanic.
There was further consolation for hosts Germany, who clung on for an 80-71 win over France in the Third-Place Game, like Croatia winning their first-ever medal at the FIBA U20 European Championship, as well as their first medal in men’s youth categories since 1983, when they finished third at the FIBA U16 European Championship.
Earlier in the day, 2017 champions Greece had to sweat it out against Sweden, prevailing 77-63 in the Classification Game for 13th Place to retain Division A status. Sweden were relegated to Division B, alongside Iceland and Romania, who learned of their fate already on Saturday.
The three Division A spots for 2019 will be filled by Poland, Slovenia and Latvia, who won promotion at the FIBA U20 European Championship, Division B in Sofia, Bulgaria. In a battle of previously undefeated teams, Poland had the upper hand in the Final with a 71-60 win over Slovenia. Latvia snatched up the last ticket with a 76-62 win against Russia in the Third-Place Game.
Polish guard Lukasz Kolenda took home MVP honors and was joined on the All-Star Five by teammate Adrian Bogucki, Slovenia’s Jurij Macura, Arturs Strautins of Latvia and Russian guard Grigory Motovilov.
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