Serbia Golden Again

10.08.2008

Serbia are the 2008 U20 European Championship Men gold medallists after a 96-89 win over Lithuania in a finals game that will be marked as one of the best in recent years.

This is the third year in a row Serbia are crowned in this competition but it came as no surprise.

This generation of Serbia has also won gold medals last summer in the Juniors World Championship and the U18 European Championship.

Milan Macvan (Serbia)
Milan Macvan was huge for Serbia on this night with 31 points.
Serbia's big guy, Miroslav Raduljica, won the MVP of the competition and in the finals presented all the reasons to justify that.

"I knew before the game that we're going to win," said the MVP during the celebrations.

"I can't explain it, but it was clear to me. We are the best team here and we deserved this title."

Both teams displayed big fighting spirit, great character and enormous skills for 40 minutes, but it was Serbia who made the first run which was never dropped.

Lithuania fought back and came back to minus one in the closing minutes, but Raduljica, with winning plays on both ends of the floor made the difference.

He finished the game with 14 points, 13 rebounds and a blocked shot but every play by him had a strong presence.

The go to of Serbia tonight was Milan Macvan who once again showed he steps up when the gold is on the table.

His 20 first half points were one of the main reasons Serbia took off early. He finished the game as the top scorer with 31 in addition to seven rebounds and five assists.

Last but not least is Marko Keselj who was everywhere on court tonight, stepped up with big plays and didn't miss a chance to fight for a loose ball on the way to 20 points and five rebounds.

"How do I feel now? Just look at big my smile and you will understand everything," he said holding the cup in his hand.

Lithuania gave all there is inside them, in front of 1,000 fans, who came over the weekend from their home country, but it wasn't enough against a great Serbia team.

Martynas Gecevicius and Donatas Motiejunas scored 16 each, Sarunas Vasiliauskas added 13 while Zygimantas Janavicius and Vytenis Lipkevicius scored 12 each.

The first half saw Serbia pour 53 points, 32 of them by Macvan and Keselj, while Lithuania connected just a single hit from long range out of nine attempts, but still had a look at the gold.

Three minutes inside the game it was already clear this game is going to deliver any demand.

The finalists were tied at 8-8 with Serbia spreading their points between the big guys and Motiejunas presenting his wide set of tools.

Serbia found the path to connect baskets and after a fast break three pointer by Jeremic it was time for Lithuania to call a time out down 26-24 on the edge of the first.

Lithuania climbed back to the top, before Petar Depotovic beat the buzzer from the wing with a crazy three ball almost with his back to the basket and with the help of the backboard, to set the first quarter score on 29-27.

Macvan dominated the paint with his massive presence, and picked up 13 points after 13 minutes as Serbia finally earned a four point lead.

A technical on the Serbian bench allowed Lithuania to enjoy a couple more minutes close to Serbia but that didn't last long.

Keselj with a big dunk followed by a three pointer that finally gave Serbia some air with a 44-38 lead as his team continued to pound.

Macvan with a monster three pointer completed 20 points and capped a 12-2 run that set the game on 51-38.

Keselj added a big dunk to give his team a 53-42 half time lead.

Zygimantas Janavicius (Lithuania)
Zygimantas Janavicius had 12 points and seven assists for Lithuania in the loss.

Gecevicius and Motiejunas brought Lithuania closer but it wasn't enough quite yet.

Lithuania was looking for their savior and just like yesterday it was Sarunas Vasiliauskas.

He connected a three pointer and added two points to bring Lithuania just four points shy, 59-55.

Pressure on the passing lanes and aggressiveness on defense kept Serbia on a single point for three minutes, before Raduljica stopped the drought.

The big Serb scored two from the line and blocked a dunk attempt on the other side to allow Serbia a seven point lead entering the deciding quarter, 72-65.

Lithuania made one last effort to take over the game.

Lipkevicius and Gecevicius hit from long range to make it just a single point game with six minutes on the championship clock, 79-78.

"I was so nervous when Lithuania came back to the game. I was looking how to keep my hands busy and release the tension," confessed Serbia's giant Boban Marjanovic.

The fans roared as Serbia took a time out but it was Raduljica who punched first with a big play on defense and four points in a row, as Serbia climbed to 87-80.

The gap extended to nine inside the last two minutes right before Gecevicius fouled out.

Lithuania fought till the last second but against the champs of the world it takes a tiny bit more than that.


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