09 - 17
August 2019
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Spain grab confidence for FIBA U16 European Championship 2019 with EYOF title

MADRID (Spain) - Spain earned some valuable confidence ahead of the FIBA U16 European Championship 2019 as they collected the men’s basketball title at the 2019 European Youth Olympic Festival in Baku.

Spain defeated Turkey 65-52 in the Final of the eight-team tournament, which included seven sides that will be playing for the U16 continental crown in Udine from August 9-17.

Michael Caicedo Sanchez and Juan Nunez Garcia both scored 12 points while Toni Naspler Peraire collected 6 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals in the victory. Batin Tuna paced Turkey with 13 points and 15 rebounds.

Spain's Ruben Dominquez Gonzalez

Spain won all five of their games in the biennial youth Olympic festival, beating Turkey, Greece and Lithuania in group play before knocking off France 63-34 in the Semi-Finals to set up the second match-up with Turkey to decide the crown.

"I value more the good quality than the results. It doesn't matter so much the wins, but rather the wins in a similar environment to  the one we will face at the European  tournament," Spanish coach Dani Miret said. "We don't know what will happen in the European Championship  but we are very happy with how the group is behaving."

Serbia finished the tournament with a victory, defeating France 75-57 in the Third Place Game with Nikola Radovanovic scoring 22 points to go with 7 rebounds and 3 assists. Filip Brankovic added 15 points in the win while France were paced by Melvin Ajinca’s 15 points.

Lithuania took fifth place by beating Greece while Croatia were eighth place after losing to hosts Azerbaijan, the only team in the competition not playing in the FIBA U16 European Championship 2019.

The EYOF is a good barometer for the teams going into the FIBA U16 European Championship as many of them had most, if not all, of their roster in place that will compete in Udine. France is one team that was missing many of their leading players.

The most dominant player in Baku was Greece's Lefteris Mantzoukas, who led the tournament in scoring at 19.0 points per game and rebounds with 10.8 boards a contest. The Greek talent, who plays for Promitheas Patras,  also was tops in free throw percentage at 80.5 percent, leading the competition in free throws made and attempted (6.6 and 8.2, respectively) as well.

Spain's Ruben Dominquez Gonzalez and Nikola Radovanovic of Serbia were tied for second in scoring at 16.2 pointer per game, followed by Batin Tuna of Turkey (16.0) and Paulius Murauskas of Lithuania (15.4). Lithuanian Radvilas Kneizys was the top passer with 4.6  assists per game while Croatian Domagoj Horvat was tops with 4.3 steals and Enzo Shahrvin of France registered a tournament-high 1.6 blocked shots.

Winning the EYOF has proven to be a good indicator for strong results in the FIBA U16 European Championship, which takes place a couple weeks afterwards.

Spain won the EYOF in 2005 in Italy and took third in the FIBA event while Lithuania’s victory in 2007 in Serbia was followed by a third place in the FIBA U16 European Championship, and  Serbia finished second in the U16 event after claiming the 2013 EYOF crown in Netherlands.

Bosnia and Herzegovina followed up their 2015 EYOF title in Georgia by winning the FIBA U16 European Championship later that summer. Lithuania were not as lucky in 2017, placing sixth in the FIBA U16 European Championship - and missing the FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup - after winning the EYOF in Hungary.