Serbia are U-20 European Basketball champions. In Sunday’s title game at Lignano, Italy, Serb U-20 team defeated Spain in a tight finish. It was Serbia’s first gold-medal since 2008 and it came against last year’s silver medal winners. The Serbia-Spain fight went down to the wire as Spain’s Juan Hernangomez reduced the gap to 67-64 with 60 second left. Nervousness gripped Serbians until Marko Guduric nailed an off-balance lay-up with the clock showing 20 seconds to the final hooter. With nothing untoward happening, Serbia completed the famous victory with 70-64 to emerge as champions. Guduric was Serbia’s hero with 14 points and quite aptly, he was named as the tournament’s Most Valued Player. Guduric also found himself among the All-Star Five named by organizers. Joining Guduric in the Best-Five were teammate Nikola Rebic, Belgium’s Emmanuel Lecomte, Spain’s Juan Hernangomez and Turkey’s Emircan Kosut. In the last one year, Serbia has shown dominance in nearly every sport. They won the U-20 football World Cup, U-20 Euro in basketball, Women’s Basketball Euro gold, Gold in volleyball and silver in Waterpolo. And who can forget the complete dominance of the invincible Novak Djokovic in men’s tennis?
20 participating European nations played 94 matches in U-20 European Basketball Championship that began on July 7, 2015 and ended on July 19 with the Gold Silver and Bronze medal matches on the last day. Serbia was the only undefeated team after league matches and they proved their mettle in the final against Spain, who fought all the way to the final buzzer. Spain took the first and fourth quarters from Serbia but lost second and third. It was a close tie and it could have gone either way but Serbia held on in the end to finish with a 70-64 victory. The quarter scores were; 20-21, 17-15, 16-9, 17-19.
The two sides traded leads throughout the match and scores were tied for as many as 14 times. Spain’s first quarter lead came from a great play by Marc Garcia but they lost steam in the second, when only 2 out of 17 threes could be converted. The turning point came, when Juan Hernangomez converted a three-point play with 1½ minutes left in the third quarter to tie the scores at 45-all. But Serbia’s Dejan Davidovac put his country ahead with two free throws and in the last 45 seconds. Hernangomez created further scare with 55 seconds left in the final quarter and brought the score to 67-64 with a triple. At this point Serbia called a time-out and on resumption Marko Guduric came up with an off-balance lay-up and one more point took Serbia to the victory. Ognjen Jaramaz was Serbia’s hero with a double-double of 19 points and a game-high 10 rebounds. No Spanish guard could stop Jaramaz, who maintained the same level of performance throughout the game.
In the Bronze medal match, Turkey defeated France 84-74 but not before surviving a late rally by France. Turkey led 46-27 at half-time, after which France reduced the gap to six points early in the fourth quarter. With less than two minutes left for the match, Frenchman Paul-Lou Duwiquet cut the deficit to 3 points at 71-68. Turkey got lucky with clock ticking away, when Petr Cornelie tipped the ball away and gifted Turkey an extra two points. Another miss by France’s Guerschon Yabusele enhanced Turkey’s chances. With seconds left, Turkey’s Kartal Ozmizrak scored from two free throws and Turkey finished with the third place in the tournament.