Slovenia Beat Czechs To U18 Division B Crown


A virtuoso performance on both ends of the floor from Marko Vranjkovic fired Slovenia to the Division B title of the U18 European Championship for Men in Debrecen, Hungary.

Vranjkovic had 17 points, including 12 in the decisive third quarter when the Slovenians took command, in a 68-60 triumph over the Czech Republic.

The 18-year-old power forward also corralled 11 rebounds while on defense, he came up with two steals and blocked two shots.

On the night, Vranjkovic made two of five shots from behind the arc where he ended up shooting 44.4% for the tournament while averaging 11.9 points and 7.3 rebounds.

The Czechs had deserved their place in the final and they will leave Debrecen in good spirits after sealing promotion to Division A by reaching the title game.

The Slovenians also beat the Czech Republic in a 78-77 Qualifying Round game.

Tomás Satoránský and Jan Vesely, two of the Czechs' star performers in Hungary, signed off with good efforts.

The former finished with 17 points, eight rebounds and five assists while power forward Vesely scored 16 points, swatted three shots and came up with three steals.

Vesely endured an almighty struggle at the charity stripe, though, making just four of 12 (33.3%) on the night.

The Czechs cost themselves a chance of victory with their free-throw shooting because as a team, they were 11 of 24 (45.8%). Slovenia weren't much better at 47.6% (10 of 21).

The 2.04m Vesely will be a player to watch in the future as his 1.6 blocks per game ranked first in the tournament while his average of 20.4 points was second only to Slovakia's Richard Grznár (22 pts).

The lead went back and forth between the two sides in the first half before a three-ball from shooting guard Anze Pelc and a jump shot from point guard Uros Zadnik gave Slovenia a 36-33 advantage at the break.

After Vesely made one of two at the line to cut Slovenia's lead to 36-34 at the start of the second half, Slovenia took over.

Zadnik made a lay-up and Vranjkovic followed with a three-point play go on top, 41-34.

Baskets from Pelc and Luka Dimec then made it 45-34.

Slovenia would end up leading by 17 points in the third quarter. The Czechs continued to battle and cut the deficit to six late in the fourth quarter but got no closer.

In the fight for third place, Poland outscored Slovakia 32-12 in the first quarter and cruised to a 70-60 victory.

Piotr Pamula had 20 points and Jakub Wojciechowski scored 13 and pulled down 13 boards for the Poles.

Austria capped an impressive tournament by finishing fifth after an 80-67 triumph over Sweden and Portugal also ended the event on a strong note with a 69-56 success over Denmark to clinch seventh place.

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