Croatia outlast Spain in epic Final to win U16 European title
NOVI SAD (FIBA U16 European Championship 2018) – Croatia have been crowned champions at the FIBA U16 European Championship after edging out Spain in a finish for the ages, 71-70.
Entering the locker room with a 37-29 lead behind 19 first-half points from Boris Tisma, Croatia were caught off guard in the second half, as Spain erased the deficit and took the lead at the start of the last quarter.
In a back-and-forth affair, it was Roko Prkacin stepping up for Croatia in the clutch, his poster dunk handing his team a 69-67 lead with 19 seconds to go, just for Hector Alderete to answer with a three and get Spain within inches of the trophy.
However, the crowd in Novi Sad witnessed another turn of events, as Prkacin got them off their feet with a game-winning post play 3 seconds from time, setting the final result in stone and sending his team into a frenzy.
The forward ended the game with 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Tisma topped all scorers with 24, as Croatia celebrated their first gold at U16 level since claiming back-to-back titles in 2010 and 2011.
Prkacin, who led his team in points and rebounds, at 18.6 and 10.9 respectively, was consequently named MVP of the tournament, being joined on the All-Star Five by teammate Tisma.
Spain were represented by team captain Alderete and big man Usman Garuba, who had led Spain to their last title in 2016 at 14-years-old, but fell short of repeating the feat.
The lineup was rounded out by center Alperen Sengun, who proved his worth to the Turkish team with another double-double performance on Saturday.
Turkey returned to the podium after a one-year absence to clinch their third bronze medal in the last four editions of the FIBA U16 European Championship. Sengun recorded 17 points and 10 rebounds, but it was Tibet Deniz Gorener who stole the show with his 32-point, 8-rebound performance to steer his team to an 82-59 win over France.
Earlier in the day, Slovenia survived against Montenegro in the battle for 13th place, 80-71, to snatch the last Division A ticket for 2019, sending the Montenegrins to Division B in the process. Netherlands and Georgia were also relegated after finishing in the bottom two spots.
They will be replaced in Division A next summer by Russia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (MKD), who finished on the podium at the FIBA U16 European Championship, Division B in Sarajevo.
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