Volos proving lucky for Turkey again; Spain's 23-3 run prevents a complete repeat of 2015
VOLOS (Greece) - Turkey are back in the Final of the FIBA U18 European Championship for the first time since 2015, when they lost the title game in Volos to Greece. This time they will be up against Spain, who had a 23-3 run in the second half to take complete control of the Semi-Final against Greece.
Usman Garuba and Santi Aldama are having outstanding tournaments, and they were too much for Greece on Saturday, helping Spain to a 70-54 win. Garuba had 18 points, 19 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, 3 blocks and efficiency of 38, while Aldama wasn't that far behind with 19 points, 11 rebounds, 2 steals, a block and an assists.
Greece got 13 points from Nikolaos Rogkavopoulos, but 10 of those came in the first half, when the entire team still had enough energy to match up with the big and strong Spaniards. The fatigue is evidenced by Spain's 54-28 rebounding edge, leading to an 18-7 advantage in second chance points, and a 48-30 domination in points in the paint.
Garuba and Aldama, along with all the other Spanish players, will have a physically much tougher assignment up next, as Turkey also dominated the froncourt duels in their Semi-Final with Slovenia. It ended 72-64, in a game which saw Slovenia drop an eight-point lead in the third quarter.
Alperen Sengun was the definition of high productivity in this game, 15 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 assists came in just 19 minutes of work, and Goktug Bas can go into the same sentence because he had 15 points in 16 minutes.
The highlight plays belonged to Adem Bona, author of 8 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocks off the bench. Gregor Glas scored 20 for Slovenia, Bine Prepelic finished with 13, Maj Dusanic had himself a 12-point, 10-rebound double-double, while the triple-double hero from the Quarter-Finals Ziga Samar ended the game with 8 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, but also 8 turnovers.
Turkey last played in the Final in 2015, and last won the title in 2014. Spain have been on hold for gold since Alex Abrines led them to the title in 2011. In the podium battle, Greece will try to climb it like they did in Volos in 2015, while Slovenia only have the silver from 2002 to show in their trophy cabinet.
Down in the relegation battles, Croatia defeated the Netherlands 82-72 and sent them do Division B. Amazingly, when the two teams met in Group Phase, Oranje won by 35... Croatia will play Finland for the last safe spot in Division A, after Finland survived an 85-83 drama with Latvia, who are joining the Netherlands in Division B next summer.