FIBA Men U18: Turkey stops Croatia for U18 Gold

FIBA Men U18
The Turkish Twelve celebrate winning the FIBA Men U18 European Championships after defeating Croatia on Sunday.

They’ve been the class of the event ever since the FIBA Men U18 European Championships began and on Sunday the Turkish Twelve picked up their prize to show that they are at the top of the U18 game in Europe. With an 81:74 win over defending U18 Champions Croatia in the finals, Turkey wins their first ever U18 title, to go along with a bronze in 2009 and 2011, and silver medals in 2004, 2005.

At the top of the important stats chart were the 22 turnovers that Croatia committed compared to just 14 for Turkey, as well as the 39 points Turkey got off the bench.

FIBA Men U18
Croatia’s Tomislav Gabric goes up for two in the paint against Turkey in the FIBA Men U18 title game.

The first quarter belonged to the Croatians, outscoring their opponents 22:16. After Croatia’s Marko Arapovic opened the second quarter splitting a pair of singles, Turkey took the lead with nine unanswered to get up 25:23. The rest of the second frame was basket and lead exchanges, ending with Turkey up one, 38:37 at the end of the first 30 minutes The Turkish bench were key as they dropped in 18 of the club’s 22 points.

Turkey’s Kartal Özmizrak cuts down the net after defeating Croatia.

For the first six and a half minutes of the third quarter the clubs continued with the back and forth battle, until Turkey went on an 8:0 run to build a 55:48 lead. The Croatians went four of five from the line in the final two minutes of the third 10 to keep within three, until Kartal Özmizrak hit the cords with a three-ball with two seconds left on the clock to push Turkey’s lead back to six, 61:55, heading into fourth.

Metecan Birsen knocked down a triple off an Özmizrak steal to open the fourth quarter scoring just 17 seconds into play and give the Turks a nine-point advantage at 64:55. The lead grew to as much as 11, 70:59, and as small as six, 70:64, with Turkey staying in control for the duration. With 22 seconds to play, Tomislav Gabric nailed a three-pointer to pull Croatia to within four, 78:74, but those would be their last points of the contest as the rest of points came on the Turkish side of the hardwood and from the charity stripe.

Kenan Sipahi earned MVP honors for the tournament after his game-high 19 point, six assist performance in the championship contest. For the tournament he tallied 10.9 points and 5 assists per game. Okben Ulubay added 12 points and Birsen dropped 11. Lovro Mazalin was high-man for Croatia with 15 points and 8 rebounds, Paolo Marinelli added 14 points, and the duo of Domagoj Bosnjak and Marko Arapovic (10P/11R) contributed 10 points each.

FIBA Men U18
The FIBA Men U18 European Championship All-Tournament team (l-r): Domagoj Bosnjak (CRO), Kenan Sipahi (TUR – MVP), Paolo Marinelli (CRO), Anzejs Pasecniks (LAT), Kristaps Porzingis (LAT).

Headlining the All-Tournament team was Sipahi, he was joined on the squad by Latvian big men Kristaps Porzingis and Anzejs Pasecniks; and Croatians Marinelli and Bosnjak.

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