Croatia earned a ticket to the quarter-final round after an 82-77 win over Turkey in Group F of the OMNITEL U18 European Championship at Lietuvos Rytas Arena in Vilnius, Lithuania on Wednesday evening.
The win gives Croatia a 3-2 record in the group, enough to secure the place in the next stage, but the final standing will be decided only later on today. Turkey dropped to 1-4 to finish in the 6th and last place and will play the 9-12 classification games.
|Toni Katic made sure his team will not exit the medal dreams too early by putting up big numbers|
No less than 5 players scored in double-digits for Croatia led by Toni Katic in another great game and a near triple-double with 21 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists. Stefan Zadravec added 19, Dario Saric scored 14, Boris Barac 12 and Roko Rogic 10.
In Turkey it was Muhammed Baygül with 19 points, the forward Samet Geyik scored 15 and Can Korkmaz finished with 13.
Zadravec and Katic were responsible on the points for Croatia in the first quarter, but Safak Edge and Geyik were responsible for a 16-18 lead for Turkey after 10 minutes.
Katic added 6 points in a row to move Croatia above Turkey, and Saric joined the scoring celebration to give his team a small lead.
Korkmaz missed his attempts from the arc, but Barac finished a great quarter with a 41-31 Croatian lead.
After the break the Turkish guard found his rhythm and hit 5 quick points, to make it just a 3 point game, but Saric and Zadravec extended it back to 11, 55-44 after 28 minutes.
Baygül got his game going and once again it was just a 4 point game, 59-55 early in the last quarter until Barac and Zadravec again punished the Turks, yet it still wasn't enough.
Once again Baygül, this time from the perimeter, together with Korkmaz's three pointer, brought Turkey within just 2 points at 74-72 with only 1:50 to play.
Turkey tried to complete the comeback but a dunk by Barac and a turnover by Edge allowed Croatia to vanish the Turkish dreams and get on the train for the quarter-finals.