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FIBA U18 European Championship: Serbia crowned champions on home soil led by MVP Nikola Topić

Spain 71 – 81 Serbia

[Credit: FIBA]

Nis, Serbia — Serbia was crowned FIBA U18 European Champions over Spain led by Nikola Topić’s 24-point MVP performance.

The title is their fifth since 2007 and they had to overcome a tough Spanish side who had won the two previous tournaments.

What Happened?

Hugo Gonzalez put some early pressure on Serbia converting several tough finishes in the first quarter as the two nations went back and forth.

Topić converted the two-handed jam on the fast break and Aleksa Ristic drilled a three pointer to regain a narrow lead towards the end of the first.

The first quarter ended 24-24 following a clever Mario Saint-Supery mid-range jumper off the spin move and foul call but Topić’s free throw tied the game up.

Both nations played excellent defence in the second and the game continued to be a tight affair.

Mitar Bosnjakovic was effective for Serbia showcasing some excellent footwork and the ability to get away from his defender using pump fakes and spin moves, the 16-year-old concluded the game with 21 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists.

Bogoljub Markovic’s free throw was enough to give his country the lead by just one point heading into half time with the Serbians up 41-40.

At the midway point of the third quarter Topić gave Serbia a six-point cushion, their largest lead up until that point, as he was lethal at the bucket with a tough up and under finish.

Saint-Supery cut Serbia’s lead down to two following some good hustle to grab the defensive rebound, taking it all the way to the cup for two. He led in scoring for Spain, finishing with 17 points and two boards.

Despite Spain’s best-efforts Serbia established a five-point lead heading into the fourth as they edged the low scoring third leading 56-51.

Two minutes into the fourth quarter Bosnjakovic dished a no look pass to Aleksa Ristic who converted a showtime lob for the Serbians.

It was raining three pointers in Serbia as Ristic and Bosnjakovic drilled back-to-back triples to give their country a 13-point lead.

Serbia didn’t give up the lead at all in the final quarter, ending Spain’s recent domination of this competiton and claiming their first title since 2018.

MVP: Nikola Topić, Serbia

[Credit: FIBA]

The 17-year-old guard was named tournament MVP after he averaged 15.3 points, 3.7 rebounds and 5.1 assists.

Topić made 56.2% of his shots from the field as well as being his nation’s most efficient outlet in the final.

The Serbian’s stock continues to rise as he added the European Championship and MVP to his already impressive resume as he was also named MVP of ANGT Belgrade in April, where he tied the competition’s scoring record with 49 points.

He was also included in the All-Tournament Five to add to his accolades.

All Tournament Five:

[Credit: FIBA]

Bogoljub Markovic, Serbia

Despite his relatively quiet final performance the 6’11 power forward was pivotal in Serbia’s tournament averaging 14.1 points, 7 rebounds and 1.7 assists.

Hugo Gonzalez, Spain

Arguably Spain’s standout performer in the final showed heart and desire for his country and was a real offensive threat. He averaged 14.3 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.7 assists.

Aday Mara, Spain

Labeled “the next Pau Gasol” Mara dominated the boards as well as impressing offensively, almost averaging a double double with 14 points, 9.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists.

Ivan Kharchenkov, Germany

The only non-finalist in the all-tournament five but his inclusion is well deserved as he put up an impressive 17.1 points per game along with 4.9 rebounds and two assists.

Final Standings:

  1. Serbia
  2. Spain
  3. Germany
  4. France
  5. Turkey
  6. Israel
  7. Greece
  8. Slovenia
  9. Italy
  10. Croatia
  11. Lithuania
  12. Sweden
  13. Denmark
  14. Poland
  15. Finland
  16. Czech Republic

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