Spain may have slipped in the semifinal of the Olympics last weekend, but the nation’s young player were tasting glory. The country clinched the gold in the FIBA U16 European Championships with a narrow 74-72 win over Lithuania in the final.
It was Spain’s first taste of U16 glory since success in 2013. The Iberian giant has now won four championships overall after previous win in 2009 and 2006. Despite still trailing Serbia’s five U16 European Championships titles, Spain has won four in the last ten years and is the current dominant force.
The first quarter was a high-octane affair, with both teams seeing plenty of action around the bucket. At the buzzer, Spain had carved a 24-20 advantage. The scoring dropped big time in the second quarter, allowing Lithuania to claw themselves closer to the leaders. A 12-14 second frame meant the scoreboard was at 36-34 in Spain’s favor through the long break.
The Spaniards picked it up again in the third act and streamed in 23 points and stopped Lithuania at 19 points to lead 59-53 through thirty minutes. Lithuania had trailed for most the contest, yet the team rallied in the fourth quarter and took the lead with just 13.6 seconds to go. It looked as if the comeback was complete, but Spain looked to Carlos Unanue to drain the game winning basket.
Usman Garuba was sensational for Spain. He recorded a triple double of 15 points, 11 rebounds and 10 blocks. Impressively, his blocking exploits destroyed Lithuania, who only managed a single block all game. Bear in mind, Garuba is 14 years old! Joel Parra topped the win with 19 points and also added 8 boards.
Dovydas Giedraitis led Lithuania with 18 points.