The 2009 edition of the FIBA U20 European Championship Men is in the books, with unstoppable Greece topped France thanks to five starters scoring in double figures for the gold medal. For the bronze, Spain barely held off yet another comeback from surprising Team Italy to win.
FIBA roundups follow.
(FIBA Europe) – Greece’s already-storied 1989-90 generation added another chapter to its legacy by defeating France 90-85 to capture the gold medal at the 2009 U20 European Championship.
Seven players, including all five starters, scored in double figures led by tournament MVP Kostas Papanikolaou’s 15 points as the golden generation added Greece’s first-ever U20 gold to its U18 gold in 2008 and the silver from this month’s U19 FIBA World Championship.
Kostas Sloukas, Georgios Bogris and Charalampos Giannopoulos all scored 14 points; Leonidas Kaselakis had 11 points; and Nikos Pappas and Vlantimir Giankovits each chipped in 10.
“Everybody is exhausted. That’s the reason we won, because we all gave everything we had,” said Greek center Zisis Sarikopoulos, one of seven Greek players to win two medals this summer.
“This is a special moment: Another gold and first in Europe. We want to enjoy this moment. Every medal is special. This is special because we are at home in Rhodes with our friends and family,” said Pappas, a member of the U19 All-Tournament Team in New Zealand.
“Oh man, I am very tired, very tired. I want to go somewhere far away. Away from everybody and relax.”
“It’s fabulous. I don’t know how to tell you how I feel,” added Bogris. “This summer, this year closed the best way. I am in the clouds. It’s amazing, perfect. Today is our day.”
France guard Edwin Jackson poured in a game-high 32 points and recognized that the better team won Sunday night.
“Even though we don’t have the gold medal around our necks, we can leave Greece proud. We made history tonight,” said Jackson, who won the first-ever silver medal in the competition for Team France.
“We did everything we could and played really hard. I don’t think we could have done much else to win. We got beat by the better team. And if you get beat by a better team than you have to accept it.”
Antoine Diot – selected as a member of the All-Tournament Team – added 21 points, seven rebounds, six assists and three steals. Fellow All-Tournament Teamer Kevin Saraphin chipped in 10 points, six rebounds and two blocks.
(FIBA Europe) – Spain nearly blew a 20-point lead before holding on to beat Italy 75-72 and capture the bronze medal at the U20 European Championship.
Pere Tomas scored 18 points, while Pablo Aguilar had 14 points and Sergio De La Fuente added 13 for Spain, who have still not won a U20 gold but captured their seventh overall medal and fourth bronze.
“It’s great,” said Xavier Rabaseda, who chipped in eight points, five rebounds and four steals. “We lost yesterday and that was a sad moment. But this is a European Championship and only three teams can stand on the podium.”
“This is a bronze medal and this is why we participate.”
Spain led by 20 points midway through the third quarter but saw Italy use the long ball to pull within two points and had a chance to tie the game with a three-pointer at the buzzer.
“This has been our problem throughout the tournament. We would get a lead and then stop playing defense,” said Rabaseda.
Paolo Rotondo scored 12 points and Daniele Sandri had 11 points and 10 rebounds for Italy, who made 11 of 29 (38 percent) three-pointers.
The Spaniards pushed the lead to 20 points at 55-35 midway through the third quarter, but the Italians used the long ball to get back into the contest with Rotondo, David Cournooh, Sandri, Riccardo Truccolo and Andrea Marusic all knocking down triples in a 19-7 surge to cut it to 62-54 after three periods.
The outside barrage continued in the fourth quarter with treys by Truccolo, Martinoni and Rotondo bringing Stefano Sacripanti’s men to within 67-65 with less than six minutes left.
But Luis Parejo answered with a triple and the lead would grow back to 75-68 with less than three minutes remaining. Italy would cut the deficit to 75-72 and had a chance to send the game to overtime but Roberto Rullo’s three-pointer at the buzzer was off target.