Croatia kept their good momentum and secured a spot in the Qualifying Round with a 73-61 victory over Greece in the OMNITEL U18 European Championship at the Lietuvos Rytas Arena in Vilnius, Lithuania on Saturday evening.
The win bestows Croatia a 2-1 record to create a three-way tie on top of Group D along with Serbia and Greece who suffered their first loss in the championship.
|Roko Rogic was on fire from outside and lifted Croatia over Greec|
The double-digit defeat sent Greece to the 3rd spot in the group, while Croatia finished 2nd only to the Serbian team that took the top place.
Roko Rogic topped the list of Croatia with 17 points behind 5 three pointers followed by 3 players with 12 points each - Filip Najev, Toni Katic and Stefan Zadravec.
Georgios Mavrogiannis and Anastasios Antonakis led Lithuania with 15 points each, but lack of accuracy from the foul line where the team reached only 54.2% hurt their chances to win.
Croatia was on fire from the arc hitting 10 three pointers in 47.6% mostly thanks to the hot hand of Rogic who scored half of the amount.
Greece struggled to score in the first minutes, and hit the first and only field goal in the opening quarter after more than 4 minutes.
Croatia used Rogic's hand to take a 13-4 lead after 10 minutes, and with an 8-0 run to ignite the 2nd quarter was up by already 17 points early in the 2nd quarter.
Greece made a short run before the buzzer, to stand just 12 points behind at the break, but Katic, Marin Kukoc and Dario Saric pushed the gap to 20, 49-29, after 26 minutes.
When it seemed like the game was decided, Greece in a typical Greek way found the way back.
Lynos Chrysikopoulos capped a run by his side to make it just an 8 point game, 59-51 with more than 5 minutes to play, but Saric followed by Rogic from the perimeter secured the win.
The fighting spirit of Greece kept the final margin below 15, which bestowed the first place to Serbia over Croatia.