|Pawel Dzierzak and Poland have assured Division A status for 2014|
Montenegro and Poland emerged victorious on Saturday from their semi-final battles at the U18 European Championship Division B to punch their ticket to the Gold Medal Game and earn promotion to the top flight.
Tournament hosts F.Y.R. of Macedonia and Belgium, who were the two losing sides in the semi-finals, will clash in the bronze medal game on Sunday with the winner of the clash also clinching promotion to Division A.
In the first semi-final, Poland got off to a slow start and trailed Belgium by four points at the end of the first quarter, but a big second quarter enabled them to go into the locker rooms at the interval holding a 43-36 advantage.
When play resumed, the Polish not only succeeded in putting off any Belgian attempt at a comeback but also quickly extended their lead to double-digits and cruised to an 80-62 win, punching their ticket to the final and earning Division A status in style.
Damian Jeszke was exceptional for Poland, collecting a double-double of 23 points and 12 rebounds and got plenty of support from Igor Wadowski and Mikolaj Witlinski, who scored 17 points apiece.
Belgium's Vincent Kesteloot led all scorers with 25 points and added seven rebounds in a losing effort.
Later on Saturday, Montenegro edged out F.Y.R. of Macedonia 62-60 in a thrilling semi-final clash that saw the lead change hands 12 times, with the scores tied on three occasions.
Milovan Draskovic of Montenegro sunk two vital free-throws 1:02 from the final buzzer to bring his team ahead, 61-60, and the same player wrote the final score, again from the foul line, with just two seconds left as both sides had wasted consecutive possessions in the deciding final minute of the game.
Montenegro had taken the early initiative and led 37-31 at half-time, but the hosts outscored their guests 20-10 in the third quarter to balance the encounter and set up the nail-biting finale.
Draskovic led the winners with a double-double of 16 points and 12 rebounds, Luka Djurovic chipped in with eight points and five assists, while Zoran Nikolic had eight points and six rebounds.
For F.Y.R. of Macedonia, Andrej Magdevski and Kristijan Nikolov scored 13 points apiece, the former also collecting nine rebounds, while Ljubomir Mladenovski registered a double-double of 11 points and 11 boards.
Sweden To Play Israel For Fifth Place
The four teams that lost in Thursday's quarter-finals were also in action on Saturday and it was determined that Sweden will take on Israel in the clash for fifth place in the tournament, while the Netherlands will go up against Estonia in the game for seventh place.
The Swedes took a 15-point first-half lead (41-26) over the Dutch and held on in the second half to reach a 74-64 victory, as Ludvig Hakanson erupted for 23 points and 10 rebounds; Pim de Vries finished with 18 points for the Dutch in defeat.
Israel on the other hand got off to an explosive start on Saturday and scored 59 points in the first 20 minutes to take a 21-point lead over Estonia at the half-time interval.
With this kind of advantage, the Israelis could even afford to take their foot off the gas in the remainder of the game and still clinch an 84-64 victory.
Joaquin Szuchman paved the way for the winners with 21 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, Or Cahal hit four of his seven shots from three-point range and finished with 14 points, and Itay Segev also collected 14 points, adding seven rebounds; Karl Jürjens had 12 points and five rebounds for Estonia in a losing effort.