|09 August 2008|
Serbia will get a chance to defend their title tomorrow night in the finals of the 2008 U20 European Championship Men after a 90-69 win over Turkey in the first semi-final.
The European and World champs took control over the game right from the start, using their size advantage.
This will be another final performance for Serbia who won gold in every youth category last year.
|Gökper Gen led Turkey with 20 points in the loss.|
"Not everybody on the team won a gold medal before, so there's still excitement. We'll try our best tomorrow to win the title, but in the finals there are no favorites," said Forward Marko Keselj.
Turkey fought back and came as close as three points behind early in the third, but the Serbian light struck back on the way to a 21 point win.
Milan Macvan and Miroslav Raduljica led Serbia with 21 points each with the later adding ten rebounds and two blocks.
Mladen Jeremic added 11 and Boban Marjanovic scored 10 with two blocks as well.
Turkey's Gokper Gen scored 20 with seven rebounds and three assists while Baris Hersek scored 17.
"After they came back before half time, coach told us what we need to fix," shared Keselj who had nine points.
"We started to play more aggressive defense and quickly we took a 16 point lead. From that Turkey couldn't come back."
Serbia went down to the paint right from the start and got their wish with nine points by Raduljica and Macvan on the way to an early 14-4 lead.
Raduljica's presence caused problems for Turkey also on their offensive end, as few shots were taken inside the paint, but Hersek with some big plays and Azizcan Ozdemir with a smart one, gave Turkey some hope.
The duo bigs of Serbia already climbed to 21 combined points by the end of the first quarter as Serbia held a 28-17 lead.
Hersek climbed to ten points already after 12 minutes but Serbia was still on top by 11, 28-17.
Dogus Balbay gave samples of his big athletic ability, followed by a good assist as Turkey moved the defend the zone to make the paint a little more crowded.
That didn't really affect the Serbian machine, which kept on pounding from close and far range.
Comfort visited the Turkish bench when Raduljica and Macvan were put under control for a while, and collected only four second quarter points.
The gap reached already 14, 43-29, but Turkey, despite connecting just a single shot from long distance, increased the pressure on defense and played smart on offense.
Six unanswered points before the buzzer sent the teams to the locker-rooms divided by no more than six points, 45-39.
Hersek hit from long range and Turkey was already just three points behind, but Serbia didn't blink.
A two minute blitz made it 56-46 and forced a Turkish timeout, but wasn't enough to change the face of the game.
Marjanovic stepped on court and took over the Turkish paint.
With eight points he carried Serbia to a 74-55 lead, before Turkey scored the last four points of the quarter and still held a small chance entering the fourth minus 15.
Macvan hit his second three pointer to reach 21 points and keep Turkey 17 steps behind, as the teams entered the last six minutes of the game.
When Jeremic added a corner three-ball off a Macvan assist the gap reached 20, and the Serbia win was secured.
Another year, another European Championship, another performance for Serbia in the finals.
If you wonder what would happen tomorrow Raduljica is willing to save your time.
"We'll win," he declares without any hesitation.