Preview: Who will win it all and who will go down to Division B?
CHEMNITZ (FIBA U20 European Championship 2018) – There are three sets of medals and a place in Division A up for grabs on the last day of the FIBA U20 European Championship 2018.
Israel and Croatia headline Sunday's action with the title clash, France and the tournament hosts Germany will play to join the aforementioned duo on the podium, while Greece and Sweden will be battling to preserve their Division A status.
Time: 19:00 CET, Sunday
Key match-up: Gil Beni and Mate Kalajzic guarding each other might result in some sort of spontaneous combustion in Chemnitz. The two high-energy guards have been the ones setting the tone for their teams on the defensive end and whoever gets the edge in the match-up could decide the outcome one way or another.
Fact of the game: Since 2000, only three countries had reached back-to-back FIBA U20 European Championship Finals: Serbia, Greece and Spain. This year, Israel expanded the club to four members.
They said: "We play tough basketball, good defense, we like to run. It's not the usual European basketball. That's why we're succeeding. We are focused on ourselves before the Final. It would mean everything to me to win gold, it would mean the world." – Israel center Miron Ruina
"It just feels amazing to be in the Final. Last year’s team was also very strong, they had a rough Final, but I think we’re going to do better. We’re going to stay together like we always do, and it will be a good result. We need to calm down, relax a bit, and then be ready to play our best offense. We made history (by reaching the second consecutive Final), but we want more, we want the gold. We won't be complacent, we need to win." – Israeli forward Deni Avdija
"This is going to be the first U20 medal for Croatia and we wish for it to be a golden one. This is our last step at youth level, and this success will serve as a launch pad going into the new season and give us all a lot of confidence, especially the guys who did not enjoy a lot of playing time last season." – Croatia center Kresimir Ljubicic
"We have been playing well the whole tournament and we're happy to be in the Final. We got knocked out to Division B at the U18 level and this this is our revenge." – Croatia big man Mateo Colak
The 'insider' prediction: Heads for Israel, tails for Croatia… And it's heads. Yes, we literally flipped a coin. These are two evenly-matched teams, who are similar both stylistically and in terms of their level. But our flawless, highly scientific approach has things figured out, surely.
Time: 16:45 CET, Sunday
Key match-up: Both Bathiste Tchouaffe and Kosta Mushidi will be looking for bounce-back games. Tchouaffe was largely invisible against Israel, while Croatia found a way to shut down Mushidi, holding him to 8 points on 3-of-10 shooting with 5 turnovers.
Fact of the game: France and Germany have faced off in FIBA youth events of all categories 32 times since 1971, with France winning 24 meetings and Germany coming out on top just eight times.
They said: "Both teams know each other well. However, this is a special game. It is an unthankful task to play such a game the day after a loss, maybe for us it's even tougher after losing a close game and investing a lot of energy. It depends on who will digest the Semi-Final games better. We will try to get our heads back up, make the best out of it and grab a medal." – Germany head coach Alan Ibrahimagic
The 'insider' prediction: There's room only for three teams on the podium and we are left with a touch choice – do you bet against the hosts or the team that won gold at the previous U16 and U18 events? Tough one… Germany has probably been the better team throughout the tournament, objectively speaking, hence they get the nod for a medal.
Time: 14:30 CET, Sunday
Key match-up: Elijah Clarance will be the main man Greece will need to slow down. There are a number of options coach Ioannis Kastritis can throw at the tournament's top scorer, but Michail Lountzis could be the one tasked with extra defensive duties.
Fact of the game: Having won the FIBA U20 European Championship 2017, Greece find themselves battling for relegation after being eliminated by Israel in the Quarter-Finals and then being handed a massive upset by Great Britain to start the Classification Games for 9-16 place.
They said: "Tomorrow, we have a big game as well and we have to prepare our minds for the final game. Last year we were the champions of Europe, so it is very important to stay in Division A. We are Greek, we are fighters and we want to continue playing in the top division." – Greece player Georgios Kalaitzakis
"It's really important to keep the place in Division A for the next generation, so we are playing for something. We'll have to stay aggressive on Sunday to come out with a victory." – Sweden guard Elijah Clarance
The 'insider' prediction: It is hard to imagine the defending European champions relegated and that doesn't seem all that likely, at least on paper. The depth on Greece's roster could prove to be the decisive factor on the last day of a seven-game tournament. That is not to say Sweden aren't capable of causing an upset on a solid shooting night.