Turkish U-18 basketball team crowned European champions
Turkey's U-18 basketball squad has won the Eurobasket championship, held in Latvia, beating Croatia 81-74 in the final. Photo by FIBATurkey’s U-18 basketball squad has won the Eurobasket championship, held in Latvia, beating Croatia 81-74 in the final on July 28.
Having knocked strong favorites Spain out of the competition at the semifinal stage, the Turkish youngsters won the FIBA U-18 European Championship for the first time.
Playmaker Kenan Sipahi won the tournament’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award, averaging 9.7 points and 4.9 assists per game in Latvia. The Tofaş guard put on another star performance in the final, where he scored 19 points and set up six assists. He was ably assisted with the 12 points of Okben Ulubay and the 11 points of Metecan Birsen.
Lovro Mazalin’s 15 points and eight rebounds were not enough for the Croatians, who were outplayed during the second half of the game.
Turkey’s highlights included Sipahi’s exceptional performance and a prolific bench that contributed a total of 39 points, while 22 turnovers, eight more than the opponent, helped ensure Croatia’s downfall.
“Turkey’s calm and collected nature throughout this tournament carried them to a deserved gold on Sunday night,” said FIBA’s website.
Croatia got off to a good start with fast breaks and rebounding dominance, leading 14-5 five minutes into the game and 22-16 after the first quarter.
Turkey came back with a 9-0 run in the second period and reached half time with a one point advantage, 38-37.
The second half saw Sipahi adopt a more offensive game, scoring 11 points, as Turkey’s bench added 18.
The Turkish team had a six-point lead going into the last 10 minutes, before raising it to 11 midway through the quarter.
Although not free of nervous moments, Turkey’s late-game performance proved enough to take the game and the championship.
Meanwhile, Spain defeated Latvia 57-56 to take the bronze medal.
Turkish youngster Sipahi was added to the All-Tournament team, along with Croatians Paolo Marinelli and Domagoj Bosnjak and Latvia’s Kristaps Porzingis and Anzejs Pasecniks.