|Greece's Georgios Papagiannis played a key role in the final with 11 points and eight rebounds. He alsoled the tournament in blocks with 3.4 a game.|
When Greece and Serbia, the only two undefeated teams in the Turkish Federation (TBF) U16 international tournament stepped on the court in Sakarya on Saturday for the final, something had to give.
As it turned out, it was not going to be the notoriously hard-nosed Greek defence.
The junior Hellenic national team suffocated their fellow Balkan side throughout the entire encounter and especially during the first and third quarters of the gold medal clash, when they gave up only nine and eight points, respectively.
With Serbia unable to get any open looks to their opponents basket and shooting only 30% from two-point and 22% from three-point range, the Greeks took a slim lead at the end of the first quarter, 14-9.
The Serbians showed signs of improvement on offence in the second quarter and went into the half-time trailing by only two points, 26-24.
Both teams struggled offensively in the third, but the Greeks stayed always in control and finally started pulling away in the final frame to clinch a 53-44 victory and claim the gold medal in impressive fashion, having won all eight of their encounters during the top-level tournament in Sakarya.
Greek point guard Dimitris Flionis went three-for-five from behind the three-point arc and finished with 13 points, while his backcourt partner Antonis Koniaris turned heads with his all-round display collecting 12 points, five assists and six steals. Center Giorgos Papagiannis added 11 points and eight rebounds.
Vojislav Stojanovic was the only Serbia player to score in double digits, with 13 points, and added nine rebounds, while Stefan Peno had seven points, six rebounds and three assists in losing efforts.
In the third-place game, France started strong against Germany and took an eight-point lead after ten minutes, but the Germans recovered from the initial shock to reduce the gap to just two points at the half-time interval.
But when France starting pulling away in the third quarter, their opponents could no longer keep with the pace and Les Bleus reached a relatively comfortable 68-54 victory to clinch the bronze medal.
Slovenia cruised to a 92-68 win over Ukraine behind a balanced team effort and took fifth place in the tournament, with guard Blaz Mesicek leading his team in scoring with 14 points and forward Urban Durnik contributing 13 points and eight rebounds.
Guards Svyatoslav Mikhayliuk and Rostislav Lunskiy combined for 52 of Ukraine's 68 points, as the first had 29 on 5-for-10 shooting from three-point range and the latter added 23 on 7-for-11 shooting from two-point range.
Latvia meanwhile edged out hosts Turkey 61-60 in the battle for seventh place, behind a 20-point, eight-rebound display by winger Arturs Strautins, while point guard Renars Birkans had 10 points and six assists.
Turkey forward Arber Berisha collected a double-double of 20 points and 12 rebounds in a losing effort.
Greece's Koniaris, who led the tournament in steals (four per game), was named the MVP of the week-long event in Sakarya.
Ukrainian Svyatoslav Mikhayliuk overtook Stephane Gombauld as the top scorer of the tournament on the last day, averaging 21.0 points per encounter to the Frenchman's 20.5.
Gombauld still left Sakarya as the top rebounder with 13.9 boards per game, while Serbia's Peno was the best passer, with 4.3 assists per night and Papagiannis blocked more shots than anyone else, 3.4 per game.