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Croatia Edge France For Bronze

03.08.2008
Toni Prostran made four free throws in the final 18 seconds to give Croatia a 73-68 victory over France to capture the bronze medal at the U18 European Championship Men, in Pyrgos.

Mario Delas scored 18 points and grabbed 14 rebounds as the Croatians collected their sixth U18 medal of their history and first since gold in 2002.

Croatia's medal collection also includes 1996 gold and silver in 1994, 1998 and 2000    .

"This feels great. Our whole country was looking for us to win a medal and we made it. I am so happy for my team. We are one of the three best teams in all of Europe," said Tomislav Zubcic, who had eight points and 10 rebounds in the win.

Josip Bilinovac hit for 16 points and Ivan Ramljak also scored 16 off the bench while Prostran had eight points and dished out seven assists for Croatia.

France were led by 15 points from Nicolas Lang. Jonathan Bourhis and Alexis Tanghe both scored 11 points and Chrislain Cairo had 10.

France went ahead early 6-2 but Vladimir Vanjak's team went on an 8-0 surge for a 12-8 lead. The advantage grew to 19-10 and was 20-13 after one period. The French pulled to within 22-19 before a 10-2 run opened a 32-21 cushion. And Ramljak's foul shots left the margin 44-30 at the break.

Three-balls from Ramljak and Bilinovac pushed the gap to 17 points early in the second half - 52-35 - before France went on a 19-8 run, which included three triples by Bourhis, the final of which left Philippe Ory's team trailing just 60-54 after three periods.

Andrew Albicy's three-pointer trimmed the margin to 62-59 but Bilinovac answered right back with a trey. Two break-away baskets by Jérôme Sanchez made it 65-63 midway through the fourth.

Two free throws by Lang trimmed the deficit to 69-68 with 20 seconds left. Prostran made to foul shots with 18 seconds left and Bourhis missed a three-pointer with seven seconds to play before Prostran nailed two more from the line to provide the winning margin.

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