The Serbian under-20 National Team won the FIBA Europe U20 European Championship this weekend by beating the team of Lithuania in an amazing game with the score of 96-89. BallinEurope was present in Riga and gives you an update about the tournament and its main players.
The Final, that was played in front of 4500 fans in the huge Riga Arena was a Youth game of top European level. Both teams featured great guards, amazing shooters and real inside players. And it was Serbia that took the lead from the beginning on by insisting on the super massive Milan Macvan inside to score against the physically weaker Lithuanian post players.
But the two stars of the Lithuanians, Martynas Gecevicius and Donatas Motiejunas brought their team back into the race in the second half, frenetically supported by hundreds of Lithuanians who made the trip by car from Kaunas or Vilnius. But the impressive game of Cologne 99ers forward Marko Keselj in the decisive phase, who got also the necessary support by Macvan and the tournament MVP Miroslav Raduljica, was the guarantee for another Gold Medal for this generation of Serbian players.
The Lithuanian fans though, who supported their team throughout the whole game were of course a bit disappointed at the end and finally decided to give the deserved applause to a Serbian team that was superior. Some of the players of this generation are already present at the European level like Olympiacos guard Milos Teodosic. Now if this big men mature and develop, Serbia will most likely be ready to compete at the highest level again in a few years time.
The tournament was on the other hand also the confirmation of a few things that we could see arrive over the last years. The Golden French generation that won the U16 (2004) and U18 (2006) European Championship could not overcome the missing of Nicolas Batum and Alexis Ajinca who preferred to prepare for the NBA than play with the U20s. Montenegro, who only started to play as an independent country since 2007, continued their impressive run in the U20 category which started in the B Division last year till a 5th place overall this year. This was mainly possible because of the highly talented Vladimir Dasic who earned a well deserved place in the All-Tournament team and also my MVP vote.
The tournament in Riga was also the possibility to meet some of BallinEurope’s friends like Jonas Miklovas or Yarone Arbel. We had some good moments together in Riga and that’s why I wanted to share the following thoughts that Yarone would surely qualify as: “This is BallinEurope”:
- Besides being selected into the All-Tournament team, we have to give credit to Vladimir Dasic for wearing the biggest bling-bling earring of the tournament. And I don’t speak about the rest of his look.
- In the always popular contest of “Which player watches more the cheerleaders than the tactic board during a timeout?”, we had this time a future Hall of Famer with a Spanish assistant coach “faking” three times to check the scoring table in one time-out but always giving a close look to the Latvian dancers. It helped the team tough, as Spain won the Bronze medal.
- A big credit to the Lithuanian fans who made the Final very special with their incredible support throughout the game. One of the great moments was before the game when the fans sung the famous Lithuanian sport Anthem “Trys Milijonas”.