By Milan Lazarevic
After 2 fantastic games Europe got its best teams on Under 20 European Championship. Serbia is still the only undefeated team on whole championship, but in last 2 games they saved that status after great dramas. Turkey qualified for the most important game on whole tournament after brilliant performance against tired Slovenians.
Show came to the end...
After 2 overtimes in match for infarct, Serbia won qualification visa for big finale. After +10 in 15th minute, Serbia stopped, Italy woke up and with 12:0 series surprised favorites from Balkan. Match was equalized till the end, when Maras missed shoot in last second for a win. Serbian team have to thank to Nikola Pekovic (23 pts, 8 rebounds) because they stayed in competition. Fantastic center dominated during whole match, and the only help was coming from Nenad Mijatovic (21 pts) who was also one of the reasons why Serbia didnt end everything much earlier. Mijatovic made few unforgivable mistakes (6 turnovers), but when it was the most important in 2nd extra period he scored crucial triple + 2 free throws for big +4.
In first overtime, Italians had +3 and ball 30 seconds till the end, but Luca Vitalli (20 pts, 4 assists)made offensive foul and gave chance to Ivan Maras (9 pts, 6 rebounds) to become a hero with incredible triple which catapulted Serbian team to 2nd overtime.
In last 5 minutes Serbia showed that their bench was much longer, and after Jereminov defensive role on Alessandro Piazza, everything was over...
Michele Antonuti was unstoppabel in Italian team with 22 pts and 5 rebounds, but crucial fact for their loss was bad role of Luigi Da Tome (6 pts), practicaly their main player.
At the other side, Nikola Dragovic was Serbian man from the shadow with 11 pts and 10 rebounds.
Slovenia couldn't stay in race. This was terribly exhausted competition for only 10 Slovenian players. Only one day for a rest was not enough for complete rehabilitation after fantastic fights in quarter-final group, and motivated Turkey was there for a "cold execution".
Turkish win was not under any doubt for 40 minutes. They dominated in rebounding (47:29), in shooting (56% : 40%) and final +34 represents realistic picture from the court.
Cenk Akyol (28 pts) and especially Ersan Ilyasova (14 pts, 13 rebounds) with great help of Hakan Demirel (17 pts, 5 rebounds, 5 assists) simply destroyed Jaka Klobucar (21 pts), Emir Preldzic (18 pts, 5 rebounds) and co.
Finale will be played in Sunday in 20:30.
Serbia & Montenegro - Italy 89-83 (23-15 12-27 19-13 16-15 8-8 11-5)
Slovenia - Turkey 62-96 (19-26 17-17 12-23 14-30)