29 July, 2017
06 August
7 Raimon Carrasco (ESP)
to read

Who will be crowned the new U18 European champions in Bratislava?

BRATISLAVA (FIBA U18 European Championship 2017) - It will all be decided between Serbia and Spain in the gold-medal game at the FIBA U18 European Championship 2017 at the Hant Arena in Bratislava, while Lithuania and Turkey will be hoping to bounce back after tough Semi-Finals losses and also get on the podium.

For the 1999-born generations of Serbian and Spanish players, never before on the podium in international play, this tournament will go down as one to remember no matter what, but with the top spot up for grabs, no one is celebrating just yet.

Having defeated Italy, Ukraine, Germany, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Lithuania to get to the Final, the one team that did not bend or break along the way for Serbia was Spain, winning the head-to-head duel 76-70 on the opening day.

The Marko Pecarski-led Serbians led by as many as 18 points in the early going but Spain, as now has become typical for them, fought their way back in the game and came out on top in the fourth quarter.

"That game was very tight, we showed that we can play against them. We led in the first quarter by a big margin, but they came back. We have a chance in the Final and we will give our all. We already have a medal but we are not completely satisfied and will try to make it a gold one," said Pecarski, who was the top scorer of the first encounter with 21 points and 8 rebounds.

"We have shown a lot of heart, we fought well throughout this tournament and showed team basketball. We put a lot of work this summer and you see the result – we are fighting for the first place in the U18 European Championship."

Sve je ovo normalno... 🔴🔵⚪️ Idemo po zlato!! #gladnismo #fibau18europe

A post shared by Marko Pecarski (@marko_pecarski) on

If the first game taught us anything, it is that there is no giving up in Spain, who followed the same blueprint in turning double-digit deficits against France in the Quarter-Finals and then against Turkey in the Semi-Finals.

"If there is one thing that describes the character of this team, it is our heart. We have a very big heart. When the going gets tough, we put our heart on the court. We play with energy and effort and we have been able to turn things around," said Joaquin Puerto, the head coach of the team.

Having finished fourth at the FIBA U16 European Championship 2015 and FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup 2016, third time proved to be the lucky charm, as Spain finally broke their curse and booked themselves at least a silver medal.

"Now, we feel great, but we felt nervous in the game itself," Sergi Martinez spoke after getting revenge against Turkey who eliminated them in the Semi-Finals of the U17 Basketball World Cup last year in overtime.

"In the previous years, we couldn't get over the Semi-Finals barrier. We were a little bit scared this time as well, but we are happy that we finally won in our third try after being unlucky at the U16 and U17 championships.”

Spain last won the FIBA U18 European Championship in 2011 with the likes of Alex Abrines, Jaime Fernandez, Daniel Diez and Willy Hernangomez, while Serbia did so in 2009 thanks to Dejan Musli, Danilo Andjusic, Branislav Dekic and Nemanja Jaramaz.

There will also be plenty on the line in the bronze-medal game between Turkey and Lithuania, with both teams having made the podium both in the FIBA U16 European Championship and FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup. Now, only one will be able to keep their medal streak alive.

"It will not be about tactics. They had a painful loss, we lost in a similar fashion as well. I think the team that recovers better and manages to forget the Semi-Finals and brings more positivity and desire to the bronze-medal game will win," said Lithuania coach Gediminas Petrauskas.

Meanwhile, all eyes in Piestany will be on the relegation battle between Slovenia and Montenegro who will play in the Classification Game for 12th Place, with the winner preserving a Division A spot and the loser getting sent down to Division B alongside Slovak Republic.

Greece v Bosnia and Herzegovina

Latvia v Slovak Republic

Montenegro v Slovenia

France v Italy

Ukraine v Germany

Finland v Russia