A bit delayed but after a journey back home from Greece here is heinnews’s “Final report” about the U20 European Championship in Rhodes and Ialysos. The Greeks lived up to their status as favorites to beat France and win the title – in just an amazing story. Naming an All-Tournament Team was very difficult. Watching Nikos Pappas’s spitting incident was as well. And we are happy about Germany staying in Division A though also sad about Israel dropping to Division B.
Seven of Greece’s 12 players spent the two or three weeks ahead of the U20 European Championship in the winter of New Zealand, winning the U19 World Championship silver medal in losing to the mighty U.S. in the final on Sunday. After a bit of celebrations the Greek team took the grueling 23-hour journey back home and had but one day to practice with the U20 team.
All that Nikos Pappas, Kostas Papanikolaou and company did in front of the home fans in Greece was win eight of nine games in 11 days – a tough feat for any player not to mention players who played 12 games in 16 days just prior to that.
Still, the sensational septet scraped together enough guile to beat France and add another impressive trophy to their youth career, which includes U18 Euro gold in 2008 and U19 Worlds silver.
This performance was one of the most impressive seen in Europe in quite some time – though some will say Hellas were pushed on by the home crowd. But it was still Kostas Missas‘s seven 1990-born players who knocked off the all 1989-born French side.
Thank you Greece for giving European basketball another beautiful reason to love the sport.
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Tough choosing All-Tournament Team.
When asked name an All-Tournament Team for the U20 European Championship, it was clear just how many great players starred at this tournament.
Of course the team of France’s Antoine Diot, Xavier Rabaseda of Spain, Montenegro’s Nikola Vucevic, Kevin Seraphin of France and MVP Kostas Papanikolaou of Greece was a superb group worthy of the recognition.
There were a number of other players who would have deserved being on the team. Among them: Nikos Pappas, Kostas Sloukas and Georgios Bogris of Greece, France’s Edwin Jackson, Mamadou Samb and Pere Tomas of Spain, Croatian Bojan Bogdanovic and Dairis Bertans of Latvia.
Still, the five selected were great representatives of the best of the best.
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Nikos, you cannot spit on someone!
Perhaps the biggest disappointment in this tournament was the waning seconds of Greece’s semi-final win over Spain. The especially hard part to swallow was Nikos Pappas spitting on Spain forward Pablo Almazan.
Pappas admitted to the incident afterwards, saying that Almazan had been pushing him on a regular basis. But Nikos, you cannot spit on someone! This guy is a great player with a great understanding of the game. But he is still only 19 years old. And still has a bit to learn.
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Happy for talented German side
Looking shortly at the teams relegated to the Division B, Slovenia easily stayed in Division A while Germany and Israel faced off with the winner remaining in Division A and the loser getting the drop.
Germany had enough talent to compete at least for a spot in the quarter-finals if not the podium. But losing in overtime against Croatia and in the last second against Serbia showed clearly that the German players did not have the winning attitude as most of their teams struggled last season.
That makes it all the better to see that the young Germans – five of whom are being brought to the German men’s national team training camp for EuroBasket 2009 – fought off relegation.
Unfortunately, however, the Israelis were the other team to join Belgium in getting the drop.
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fibaeurope.com website features
And to close off on the U20 European Championship, here is a list of the features that heinnews’s David Hein wrote for the tournament’s website during the event.
Italian heads of delegation
Thanks for reading about the U20s