Skopje, Northern Macedonia – In the opening game of Day 3 at the U18 FIBA European Challenger in Skopje, Germany upset Croatia – 75-69. Croatia didn’t manage to bounce back from yesterday’s tough loss against their regional rival Serbia, while Germany played good team basketball and put a ton of effort on both ends of the floor. Benjamin Schroeder had a great showing, guiding his team to the win with his competitive spirit and energetic dunks. Schroeder finished the game with 17 points, eight rebounds, two assists and two steals, including a few thunderous dunks in transition or off drives and cuts. His teammate Michael-Ken Rataj had a solid game, being aggressive and putting up 14 points (primarily off drives to the basket) and nine boards, but also went scoreless from outside (0-of-5). Duje Brala (2003), a 6-5 bouncy guard led Croatia in scoring with 17 points and four assists, while he was literally living at the free-throw line (11-of-12) thanks to his nice explosiveness and quick first step off the dribble. Andrija Jelavic recorded a double-double of 12 points and 10 boards. Despite his three steals and a blocked shot, in most of the plays against Marc Tilly (2003, 6-11), Jelavic wasn’t able to shut him down close to the basket. Filip Kalajzic (2003), a 6-8 power forward fought hard on both ends, finishing with 12 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots.
In the today’s second game Serbia remained unbeaten after a blowout victory against Georgia – 91-48. The Serbians had a dominant performance throughout the game. Luka Vudragovic (2004), a 6-4 shooting guard who can score at all three levels led the winners in points with 20, adding five steals and shooting 3-of-6 from long range. Lazar Djokovic had another solid showing at the event, recording 14 points and seven boards in 19 minutes. The leading scorer for Georgia was 6-4 point guard Luka Liklikadze (2003) who put up 15 points, shooting 2-of-4 on threes, but he also turned the ball over six times.
In the final game Spain got an expected win against the hosts Northern Macedonia – 69-62. Despite leading all game, the win for Spain didn’t come easy as the Macedonians never raised the white flag. Both teams didn’t shoot well from distance – Northern Macedonia went 8-of-27, while Spain shot 4-of-27. Jordi Stegemeijer (2004), a 6-6 shooting guard led the winners in scoring with 16 points (6-of-11 FG), while his teammate Eddy Pinedo (2004), a 6-7 forward gave a lot of energy to the team on both ends, recording 11 points and nine boards. Ab Sediq Garuba once again was the guy who set the tone for Spain on the defensive end of the floor forcing opponents to make turnovers or bad plays. Garuba finished with nine points, 13 rebounds, one steal and a blocked shot. For the hosts, 6-4 shooting guard Rezart Mehmed (2003) had a game-high 18 points and grabbed six boards, but shot only 3-of-12 from long distance. His teammate Amar Hot (2003), a 6-7 forward added 11 points, while also being very aggressive on the boards, securing 17 (nine offensive).
Tomorrow there will be no games as the teams will rest and the event will resume on Saturday when Germany will play Georgia, trying to keep the momentum after the big win against Croatia. In the next game of the program Spain will look to stay unbeaten against the strong team of Croatia, while in the final game of the day Serbia will try to keep their winning streak at the event playing against the hosts from Northern Macedonia.