|Dario Saric looks all but tired in his second tournament after the U18 European Championship in Vilnius, Lithuania. He was good for 31 points and 15 rebounds against Greece.|
by Yarone Arbel
Yet another great performance by Dario Saric led Croatia to a 70-49 victory over Greece in Group E of the U16 European Championship at Osnovna Skola Jugoslavija in Bar, Montenegro on Monday evening.
Croatia tied their record with France on top of the group as both sides now have three wins with no losses while Greece dropped to 1-2 still among the top four in the rankings.
In the following day Croatia will take on Lithuania while Greece will try to get on the win train once again when they face up with Italy.
Greece dragged Croatia to a slow paced game, and even climbed to a 37-40 lead deep in the third quarter, but saw their rivals react with a 33-9 run in the last 13 minutes of the game.
Dario Saric shone with 31 points, 15 rebounds, six steals and was followed by Karlo Lebo with 15 points and Martin Junakovic with 10 points and five assists.
Kyprianos Maragkos led Greece with 10 points as the only Greek player in double-digits.
Greece managed to maintain Croatia but had to wait till the fourth minute to take their first lead, 9-11 as Saric started to collect his points.
The Croats finished the opening quarter with a 16-13 lead, but then their main man became unstoppable.
After collecting nine points already in the first quarter he stepped up to score the next nine of his team, set the gap on 25-16 and actually have by that landmark more points than the entire Greek team.
Greece collected points in different ways but with the last two baskets of the first half managed to cut the margin to just 31-26 after 20 minutes and stay close behind in a slow paced game.
After the low-scoring first half the second started with a bombing from distance - two on each side - and Greece were the first to recover and even take a 37-40 lead after Maragkos added another jumper, but from this moment on it was a totally different game.
Croatia's initial answer was a 12-0 run in which Saric scored only two points while Lebo had six to cap the run at 49-40 from the arc.
Inside the last five minutes Greece was still behind by just nine, but Lebo with five more points in a row, and Saric with five of his own created a gap that decided the game quickly and kept Greece on just 49 points.