by Yarone Arbel
Serbia and Russia have the happy faces in the 5-8 Classification Round of the U16 European Championship at Sports Hall Topolica in Bar, Montenegro on Sunday night.
The Serbs won the fifth spot after beating France 55-45 and leave the French in the sixth place, while Russia earned the seventh seat following a 78-64 victory against the hosting team Montenegro that will settle for the eighth rank eventually.
The four teams lost their quarter-finals two days ago but kept on fighting to improve their final standings until the last minute.
For Serbia this was the second win in a row in the final round, and they finished the tournament with a great 7-2 record, after beating France by 10 points in their last game, 55-45.
Serbia enjoyed 16 points by Nikola Radicevic and Nikola Jankovic finished with 11. Anthony Racine and Mouhammadou Jaiteh scored 11 points each to lead the French side while the latter added 11 rebounds as well.
After France took an early lead the Serbs reacted with an 11-0 run to take a 17-10 lead after 10 minutes, and the lefty Nikola Radicevic scored twice from the arc to make it a double-digit gap game after 13 minutes.
Jankovic and Radicevic extended the gap up to 16 as Serbia doubled the number of points of France by then, but eventually went to the half time break up 32-19.
France reached inside the single-digit gap zone, but Radicevic quickly woke up Serbia and allowed his team to finish with a nice win.
Russia recovered from two straight losses to finish seventh following a 78-64 win over the local team that after a great start lost their last three games to drop to the eighth spot.
Stanislav Ilnitskiy had 19 points and nine rebounds, Oleg Alferov added 17 while Vasily Martynov and Pavel Sizov scored 12 each. Nikola Ivanovic reached 25 in another good performance and Milos Pajovic added 15.
After a close first half Russia made a 10-0 run in the third quarter to take a 56-45 lead, and held on to it for long minutes.
Ivanovic carried his team back and with another jumper set the gap on 67-63 with 3:19 to play, but Sizov and Ilinitskiy scored quickly, kept Montenegro behind and wrote an 11-1 dash until the finish line.