|19 August 2012|
By Jared Grellet
Russia and Serbia both come into the bronze medal game at the Samsung U18 European Championship on the back of heartbreaking losses, and now have less than 24 hours to put it behind them, if they are still to make it onto the podium.
The circumstances in which the two teams have reached this juncture are eerily familiar.
Both teams went into their semi-finals as the underdogs, both led for large periods and in fact looked like causing an upset, and both had a chance to win their clashes until the very last minute of the game.
However, neither team could finish the game with a win and now find themselves here.
With Russia and Serbia averaging the 10th and 16th least three-point attempts made a night respectively, expect this game to be decided inside the paint.
In Nikola Jankovic (Serbia) and Igor Kanygin (Russia), both teams have powerful forwards who like driving to the rim before sending the ball home with force, and perhaps provide the most enticing match up in this encounter.
The tussle between Stefan Pot and Mikhail Kulagin could also be intriguing, depending on what player brings his game with consistency, a problem for both. Both players possess sweet jump-shots from just inside the perimeter but are confidence players and if they miss early, it could signal a bigger workload for their teammates.
Serbia will be worried about whether Nikola Radicevic will be able to play after the stand-out point guard was limited to only 12 minutes against Lithuania due to what looked to be a calf injury.
Russia will be looking to make this a defensive-minded encounter as they average 10 points less than their opponents while Serbia surely will want to win this with their high-octaine offense.