The FIBA U19 World Championship closes out today, and BiE is proud to say that two of Europe’s finest basketball powers, Lithuania and Serbia, will be meeting for the title. Following, a few links, video clips and the like serving as a preview for the big youth match.
• The biggest audience in North America for the final game may be in Toronto, as the Raptor Nation considers their first-round draft choice Jonas Valanciunas; FIBA’s official website asks what may be a theoretical question: “How do you stop Valanciunas?” The Lithuanian has averaged tournament highs at 21.4 points (second-best is Team Croatia’s Boris Barac with 19.0), 14.6 rebounds (topping Assem Ahmed of Egypt’s 12.2), and 3.2 blocks (topping the 2.9 logged by Lucas Nogueira of Brazil) per game. The duties today will be handed to Nemanja Besovic, to whom BiE wishes best of luck.
• And just to tease Raps fans a bit more, here’s perhaps the highlight of the tournament turned it by anyone: Valanciunas finishing a monster alley oop amidst his ridiculous 26-point, 24-rebound, five-block performance against Poland.
• Serbia’s big gun is clearly last season’s Euroleague wunderkind Bogdan Bogdanovic, who finally broke out after playing sparingly for most of the tourney to go for 25 points and eight rebounds in 35 minutes in the 76-71 semifinal win over Argentina. Below is Bogdanovic’s post-game interview especially for anyone who thinks he doesn’t speak English…
• These two squads met previously for an international title in the 2008 FIBA Europe U20s final, with Serbia besting Lithuanian behind Miroslav Raduljica and Marko Keselj.
• In this tournament, however, Team Lithuania got the better of the Serbs with a decisive 71-54 victory in game four.
• On a bit of a tangent, the greatest highlight-reel producer in the tournament was probably Patric Young of Team USA, which was beaten by Croatia and Russia along the way to its fifth-place game matchup against Australia. American media blames a lack of star power for the Yanks’ relatively poor finish, but you’d never knowing it watch the University of Florida Gator go to work here.
• The final begins at 8.15pm CET (2.15pm EST). You can watch live online here; a day pass to FIBA TV is €7.99.