Promising First Tests For 3 Contenders

26 June 2013

7. Brano Djukanovic (Serbia)
Brano Djukanovic and his backcourt partners left a good impression in the friendlies with Bosnia and Herzegovina

The U18 national teams of Turkey, Croatia and Serbia have produced highly encouraging performances in warm-up games at the start of their preparations for the U18 European Championship Division A.

On Tuesday, the U18 Serbia side completed a two-game sweep of U18 Bosnia and Herzegovina in back-to-back friendlies with a 73-52 victory.

The Serbians came out strong and took a 15-point lead at the end of the first quarter to essentially resolve the encounter from early on.

Guard Stefan Ljubenkovic led the way for the winners with 11 points, while three further players finished with nine points each for Serbia.

The Serbians had won the first game on Monday 77-51 thanks to a strong showing in the second half, in which they outscored their opponents 38-18.

Two backcourt players were Serbia's top scorers also in the first clash, as Brano Djukanovic and Ognjen Jaramaz combined for 28 points.

"We can be satisfied with our form and the results at this stage of preparations," said Serbia head coach Aleksandar Bucan.

"We have identified our mistakes and have to correct them as soon as possible, because next time we will play against even stronger opponents."



Turkey were the team that topped the table at the U18 International Tournament in Potenza, Italy.

Reigning U18 European champions Croatia, who were playing without their injured star player Mario Hezonja, finished tied with Turkey on 2-1 wins.

Meanwhile hosts Italy and Slovenia both finished with a 1-2 record.

Turkey edged out Croatia 71-70 on the first day of the tournament, as every single Turkish player spent at least ten minutes on the floor and wrote his name on the score-sheet.

Forward Metecan Birsen and point guard Kenan Sipahi led the balanced Turkish offence with nine points each, while Birsen also corralled five rebounds.

In the other Day 1 game, Slovenia scored 15 points in the final five minutes and came from behind to defeat Italy 67-64, behind a brilliant 28-point display by point guard Matic Rebec.

On Day 2, Turkey held off a second-half Slovenian rally to double their wins in the tournament with a 63-61 success.

Center Emircan Kosut finished with 11 points and five rebounds for Turkey who showed once more admirable plurality on offence, as 11 players took to the floor and scored for coach Taner Gunay's side.

15. Marko Arapovic (Croatia)
Croatia finished the tournament with a win over Slovenia, with Marko Arapovic recording a 20-point, 10-rebound double-double

Croatia this time were on the right end of a one-point thriller, as they clinched a 77-76 victory over Italy.

Karlo Zganec had a game-high 16 points and added five rebounds for Croatia, while Ivan Jukic went 3-for-3 from behind the arc and finished with 14 points.

On Day 3, Croatia had a magical first quarter in their clash against Slovenia and took an early 19-point lead, which they held on to for the remainder of the game to claim an 82-62 win.

Marko Arapovic paved the way for the triumph with a double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds.

In the last encounter, the hosts finally claimed a first victory in the tournament by defeating Turkey 65-57, thanks to a strong finish that enabled them to overturn a 5-point deficit.

Forward Simone Fontecchio led Italy with 14 points while center Jacopo Vedovato had 11 points and eight boards.

The U18 European Championship Division A tips off on 18 July in Latvia.


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