Skopje, Northern Macedonia – The final day of the Skopje U18 European Challenger was opened with a game between the teams of Georgia and Croatia. Croatia finished strong to get the win – 84-72. Despite being without one of their leaders, starting floor general Giorgi Ochkhikidze who was disqualified for committing two unsportsmanlike fouls late in the second quarter, Georgia managed to stay close to Croatia throughout the greater part of the game. Croatia pulled away by winning the fourth quarter by 11 points. The primarily reason that Croatia kept close to Croatia was Luka Liklikadze who stepped up and scored 29 points, hitting 8-of-15 from the field, including 3-of-8 from deep, but even more impressive was the number of free-throws he took – 18, connecting on 10 of them. The leading scorer for the winners was Noa Svoboda (2003), a 6-3 guard, with 23 points and six rebounds, including 3-of-5 on threes. His teammate Krsevan Klarica (2003), a 6-5 swingman helped with 16 points and 10 boards, showing very good touch from outside, shooting 3-of-7.
In the most anticipated game of the tournament between the two unbeaten teams, Spain completely dominated against Serbia to win it – 68-50. Spain got another win at the event thanks to their great defensive effort and especially their impressive presence within the paint on both ends of the floor. Spain managed to limit their opponents to a single-digit points in the third and fourth quarters – five and eight, respectively. Guillermo Diaz played his best game at the tournament, leading the winners with 16 points, adding five boards and blocking six shots while intimidating his opponents around the rim. Sediq Garuba had another solid performance on both ends of the court, finishing with 15 points, seven rebounds and five steals, despite having six turnovers. For Serbia, Ilija Milijasevic scored 14 points and got six rebounds, shooting 4-of-13 in a losing effort. However, it’s worth mentioning that Serbian team was the youngest at the tournament, having all their players born in 2004.
In the last game of the competition, Germany prevailed over the hosts from Northern Macedonia – 97-79. Once again Michael-Ken Rataj and Benjamin Schroeder were the motors for Germany in the win, putting a lot of effort and energy on both ends of the floor. Rataj scored a game-high 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, shooting 2-of-4 from long range, while Schroeder had 21 points and six boards. The leading scorer for Northern Macedonia was Amar Hot who finished with a double-double of 21 points and 10 rebounds, shooting 8-of-12 from the charity stripe.
Spain took first place, winning the gold medals, while Serbia and Germany finished second and third, respectively. Fourth and fifth was Croatia and Northern Macedonia, while Georgia took the last place going winless at the event. Jordi R. Stegemeijer from Spain was named the most valuable player of the tournament, averaging 14.6 points and 1.8 steals per game in close to 26 minutes of action.
This article was written by Simeon Marinov, Director of European Scouting for NetScouts Basketball. You can follow us on Facebook, or on twitter.
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