Cassar Leads Malta To Gold

15. Kurt Cassar (Malta)
Kurt Cassar of Malta was named tournament MVP

Tournament MVP Kurt Cassar was dominant again, recording another double-double to lead the hosts to a 59-33 win over Gibraltar and clinch the U16 European Championship Men Division C gold medal.

It was Cassar's fourth double-double in four games, and he scored more than 20 points in every match in the tournament, leading all scorers in this match with 26 points in what was effectively the tournament decider.

His tally included four three-pointers as the big man showed a nice touch from outside. He was the only player to score more than once from long distance, as well as adding 15 rebounds and five blocks.

A tense first half was locked at 24-22 in the home team's favour before Cassar hit one of his long bombs to give his team a five-point half-time advantage.

They never looked back, holding Gibraltar to just 11 points in the second half amid multiple forced turnovers, with Matthew Gouder the chief pest on defence as he grabbed five steals to add to seven points, eight rebounds and four assists.

Gibraltar's center Aaron Santos gamely battled Cassar for supremacy, ending with 12 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks. But prolific teammate Nicholas Fava couldn't get going on offence as he was held to just five points, although he grabbed a game-high 17 rebounds.

A win would have seen Gibraltar claim gold, but their defeat and Wales's victory earlier in the day over San Marino sent the Gibraltarian team down to fourth place in the rankings, with only the winless San Marino team below them.

San Marino were again valiant in defeat after their heartbreaking loss on Friday to Malta, but they were left to rue a slow start as Wales never trailed, using a 9-0 run to pull clear in the first quarter.

Aside from one drubbing against Andorra, San Marino have been close in every match, and they recovered from a 10-point half-time deficit to claw themselves back into the game, with Giacomo Pasolini's lay-up tying the match with 2:37 remaining.

But their shots wouldn't fall down the stretch, and Morgan Carter and Kieran Horrigan scored to secure the victory for Wales. Carter finished a strong tournament with 17 points and 14 rebounds for Wales, who were led by Stelios Koukouravas' 26 points. Gianluca Alfarano top-scored for San Marino with 11.

Koukouravas, Fava and Santos joined Cassar on the all-tournament team, along with Andorra's Alexis Frases. Nicholas Page of Wales was presented with the tournament's Fair Play award.


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