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European Championships U18 2002 logo
Final Standings
1.Croatia 7-1
2.Slovenia 7-1
3.Greece 5-3
4.Lithuan. 4-4
5.Turkey 4-4
6.Israel 4-4
7.France 4-3
8.Poland 3-4
9.Spain 2-4
10.Russia 2-4
11.Latvia 2-4
12.Germany 0-6

Group A(Leverkusen)
1.Slovenia 5-0
2.Lithuania 3-2
3.Poland 3-2
4.France 3-2
5.Spain 1-4
6.Germany 0-5
Group B(Esslingen)
1.Croatia 4-1
2.Greece 3-2
3.Israel 3-2
4.Turkey 2-3
5.Russia 2-3
6.Latvia 1-4

Stats Leaders
1.Halperin (ISR) 25.3
2.Schortsanitis (GRE)22
3.Atsur (TUR) 21
 E.Lorbek (SLO) 21
5.Pasalic (CRO) 20.3
1.Schortsanitis (GRE)11
2.Lampe (POL) 10.7
3.E.Lorbek (SLO) 10.3
4.Pasalic (CRO) 9
5.Kedzo (CRO) 9
1.Vujacic (SLO) 5.3
2.Schaffartzik (GER) 4.7
3.Koszarek (POL) 4.7
4.Guzman (SPA) 4.7
5.Halperin (ISR) 4.3
.Halperin (ISR) 2.7
2.Koszarek (POL) 2.7
3.Ukic (CRO) 2.7

Croatia won title (Photo: ACB.COM)

The tournament goes to it's final stage

  Croatia triumphs in European Championship for Junior Men - Jul 25, 2002 - by Eurobasket
"The Stars of Tomorrow" was the by-line promised by the local organisers of the European Championship for Junior Men held over the last week in Stuttgart, Germany, and the 12 participating nations did not disappoint. There was an abundance of individual talent on display throughout the 9-day tournament as well as some very well drilled, deep and formidable teams.
The competition format was two groups of six and after the preliminary round of play Slovenia and Croatia emerged as group winners, followed by Greece and Lithuania in second place. A further four teams (Turkey, Latvia, Israel and France) also progressed to the quarter final round, and Slovenia, Croatia, Greece and Lithuania all won their respective games to qualify for the semi-finals.

Greece and Slovenia were first up in what proved to be an intriguing match-up. Greece had already proved its title credentials by winning the prestigious Albert Schweitzer tournament in March this year, but Slovenia was the only undefeated team in the competition and touted by scouts and journalists as the deepest roster of all the participants. A further mouth-watering subtext was the match-up at center between Erazem Lorbek of Slovenia and Sofoklis Schortsanitis of Greece. Both players had dominated under the basket throughout the tournament and supporters expected sparks to fly when the two finally met. In the end it was indeed these two players who would decide the outcome of the match.
Greece came out of the blocks early behind shooting guards Efstratios Perperoglou and Constantinos Vassiliadis and built up a 27-21 lead by the end of the first quarter, but a slow and steady comeback from Slovenia saw the score tied at 62 by the end of the fourth quarter. The stage was set for a dramatic finish and with just 5 seconds left on the game-clock Schortsanitis was fouled and sent to the free-throw line, with his team down by one point, 73-74. There was a huge amount of pressure on the 17 year old center, but he hit both freebies to give his team a one point lead, 75-74. The options for Slovenia were limited, go for the win and the glory or go home as a defeated semi-finalist. The Slovenians of course went for the win and got the ball straight to their leader Erazem Lorbek on the block, and the big guy delivered. Despite the attention of three defenders he made his move and flipped the ball off the backboard and in just before the buzzer sounded. It was a cruel end for an excellent Greek team and its supporters (around 800 of whom came to Boblingen to cheer their country on) but nobody could say that Slovenia did not deserve to be in the final.
As soon as the heart rates had returned to normal and the Slovenian team had stopped celebrating, it was time for the process to start all over again and the next semi-final, Croatia v. Lithuania. Croatia was buoyed by its own contingent of some 800 boisterous spectators in the arena, but it didn't seem to help and the Croats trailed the Lithuanians for almost the entire game. Croatia's top scorer and leader was point guard Roko Ukic, but against Lithuania he could simply not get going, finishing the game with just 9 points on 2/15 shooting. Lithuania flaunted a balanced attack led by center Daruis Silinskis (12 points, 9 rebounds, 4 blocks) and forward Valdas Dabkus (16 points and 6 rebounds). As a result Lithuania controlled the game comfortably from the front and entered the court at the start of the fourth quarter with a 60-53 lead.
For the Lithuanians, the last quarter was a nightmare that they will want to put behind them as soon as possible. A 14-0 run by Croatia was enough to confirm that the game was by far from over and as soon as the crowd got behind the Croatian team, it did not look like losing. The Lithuanians, on the other hand, seemed intimidated by the Croatian comeback and could only manage 6 points in the quarter and a 6-point loss, 69-75.

Slovenia and Croatia entered the court on 21st July to find a capacity crowd in Boblingen cheering both teams. Once again the Croats had the psychological advantage as over 1,000 of their fans were present, but Slovenia also had a section of the audience cheering them on. For Croatia, this was the 5th final in a row in this age category, although the last victory was in 1996. Slovenia's best ever finish had been 7th place in 1998, but as the only undefeated team in the tournament, held a slight advantage in the final game.
As in the two semi-finals, the teams treated the fans to a close and exciting game that went right down to the wire. Once again Croatia faced a fourth quarter deficit, and once again the team showed huge heart in mounting a spectacular comeback. The stars on the court were undoubtedly Erazem Lorbek of Slovenia (32 points, 7 rebounds, 4 steals) and Roko Ukic (25 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists) and both players produced sublime performances under intense pressure.
The fourth quarter of the game was all Slovenia, which had an 8-point lead (69-61) with two minutes on the clock. This time the Croatians timed their comeback a little bit later than against Lithuania and with 33 seconds to go, the gap had been reduced to just two points, 72-70. Slovenia had possession of the ball but a turnover led to a fast break and Ukic was fouled. He hit two clutch free throws to tie the game (72-72) and leave Slovenia in a very similar position as the day before. Once again Slovenia went for a game winner, but full court pressure from Croatia led to a turnover and guard Hrvoje Gasparac emerged with the ball. He was fouled just as the buzzer sounded and would go to the line with the chance to win the game. The Croatian team was already celebrating but the atmosphere among the fans was extremely tense as victory was far from assured. Fortunately for the team's supporters Gasparac showed no nerves whatsoever in hitting both free-throws, winning the tournament for Croatia and putting a final touch to a truly great basketball tournament.

All-Tournament Team
The following players were voted to the All-Tournament team by media members present in Stuttgart:
Point guard: Roko Ukic (Croatia) - Ukic showed his pedigree in Stuttgart not only as a great player, but also as a leader. At 1.90m the point guard may be slight in stature, but he displayed great skill and heart and of course, a championship medal. He finished the tournament with averages of 17.2 ppg, 6.25 rpg and 4 apg.
Shooting guard: Engin Ätsur (Turkey) - The 1.94m shooting guard displayed a great scoring touch throughout the tournament and averaged 22.3 ppg. More importantly, he led his team to 5th position in the final standings and qualification to the World Championship for Junior Men 2003 in Malaysia.
Small forward: Valdus Dabkas (Lithuania) - Dabkas was perhaps a surprise selection to the all-tournament team. He was a key member of a very balanced Lithuanian team that finished fourth in the tournament and he averaged 12.5 ppg in 8 games.
Power forward: Sofoklis Schortsanitis (Greece) - Schortsanitis was undoubtedly a fan favourite in Stuttgart who anointed him with the nickname "Baby Shaq". Despite standing a good few centimeters smaller than his L.A. Laker counterpart (at 2.06m), there are certainly similarities in the way they play the game. Schortsanitis' inside power was simply too much for his opponents at this level and many a hapless defender was dunked on during the course of the event, to the delight of the fans.
Center: Erazem Lorbek (Slovenia) - Lorbek not only picked up All-Tournament honours but was also selected as the overall MVP. Perhaps the most impressive facet of the game displayed by this 2.10 center was his touch around the basket and he shot an unbelievable 76% from the floor. Although most of his work was carried out under the basket, he was more than comfortable shooting the three pointer and he hit 6/13 (46%) in his 8 games. He finished the tournament with averages of 23.6 ppg, 10.7 rpg, 1.5 spg and 1.5 bpg.
Honourbale Mention
Yotam Halperin (Israel) - this 1.94m shooting guard confirmed his pedigree as one of the top prospects in Europe in his age group. Unfortunately for him and his team he injured his ankle in preliminary round action and never fully recovered. He sat out the final group game in order to rest for the quarter-final in which Israel met Lithuania. It was clear from the first play of the game that Halperin was not 100% and although he managed to score 18 points in 26 minutes the team his team was defeated. Fans and players alike have talked of Halperin's similarity to Oded Kattash and there is certainly more than a grain of truth in this. The Maccaabi Tel Aviv player is a silky smooth scorer who seems to put his points on the board almost effortlessly. Despite only playing in 5 games Halperin finished the tournament with averages of 23.4 ppg, 3.2 apg and 2.6 spg.
Johan Petro (France) - a quick glance at the stats and Johan Petro's performance during this competition will not jump out at you (he averaged 8.8 ppg, 6 rpg and 1.5 bpg). However, if you saw him play you would realise that he is a major European basketball prospect who, at just 16 years of age, will be eligible to play in the 2004 European Championship for Junior Men. Although he is just 16, Petro already stands 2.12m and has the athleticism and raw talent to make a huge impact among his peers.
Constantinos Vassiliadis (Greece) - Greece had an extremely strong backcourt in Vassiliadis and Perperoglou and in the big games it was Vassiliadis who really led the team. The 1.99m guard had 32 points in the quarter-final against Poland and 22 in the semi-final against Slovenia. Throughout the competition he proved to be almost unstoppable going to the basket where he showed a superb touch in finishing in traffic. He finished the tournament as the top scorer on the Greek team at 20.9 ppg whilst also adding 6.5 rpg, 3 apg, and 1.6 spg.
by Jon Ingram (FIBA.COM)

  All about the EC for Juniors - Jul 23, 2002 - by Eurobasket
Croatia claimed the title of the European Championship for Juniors played in Stuttgart from 12th to 21st of July. The croatian team played very good all along the event and only lost against Russia in the last game of the first stage. However, they didn’t make it very good in the final stage. France was close to knock them out and so was Lithuania, both teams much weaker than the Balcanic side. Meanwhile, Slovenia was making an incredible performance. After a perfect 5-0 in the first round, they crushed Turkey in the quarters and played a tough semifinal against Greece.

   The Slovenia  -  Greece game will be remembered for long time. With a couple thousand fans of Greece yelling and throwing things to the court, the game looked like a final. Last minute was apotheosic, the hellenic side took a 72-73 advantage thanks to a three of Vasilopoulos, but Erazem Lorbek tied with just some seconds to go. Schortsianitis had enough time to draw a foul and score two FTs for a 74-75 lead. Slovenia had only 2,3 seconds for the last play, but it was ok for Erazem Lorbek, who got the ball and had the patience to dribble and score a winning basket. Greek fans didn’t like it and got annoyed, throwing tons of objects to the court, something the police couldn’t avoid (well, maybe they even didn’t try to).
   So we had a very interesting final: Slovenia  -  Croatia. The team coached by Meni Becirovic was the favourite and, despite the fact Croatia dominated all along the first half, they seemed to be ready to reach the title. The scoreboard said 67-61 with 3:14 to go and 70-65 when there were only 2 minutes to be played. However, Croatia showed they are big and hungry and stayed in the game. 6 points of Gasparac, two wrong plays of Erazem Lorbek and two free throws of Roko Ukic made the game get tied (72-72) with 6 seconds to go. Then Miha Fon ran the court, made a turnover and then another big error: making a foul to Gasparac with no time in the clock. The Croatian shooting guard easily sealed the win of his team and the 2nd European Junior championship in its history, just after 2 times in a row ending as runner up.
   One of the most amazing things of the championship was the big attendance and the hundreds of fans from many teams. Immigration helped and there could be seen thousands of Greeks, Croatians, Turkish or even Israeli fans during the championship. All them but Greece behaved well, supporting the teams without violence and problems, giving some colour to the championship. The problem, as usually, came from the Greek fans, that made the team feel like if they were at home but also showed their worst side: violence.
   The championship was starred by power forwards and shooting guards. The MVP, Erazem Lorbek, showed he deserved it. He played fantastic, scoring in all the posible ways, rebounding, passing and being decisive in any important moment. Michigan State has probably done its best signing of the last decade. Also to be remembered the skills of the Croatian power forwards Drago Pasalic and Mateo Kedzo, wonderful players with an incredible touch. Keeping an eye on power forwards we shouldn’t forget talentous Sasa Zagorac, a great back-to-the-basket player and also a nice shooter and passer, Maciej Lampe, excellent player who lacked consistency, or Paulius Jankunas, who has a natural born instinct for rebounds and also good moves in both high and low posts.
   About shooting guards, we should underline Costas Vasiliadis that showed his huge winner character leading Greek team in all the games. He joins his great skills with a leader and winning spirit that will make him a star. In Turkey we could see a big Engin Atsur, a very good shooter and dribbler with an instinct to score. Worth to be remembered are the Slovenia’s guard Aleksander Vujacic, who has it all to have a bright future, Israeli Yotam Halperin, top scorer of the championship but sidelined in the important games, or Spanish Rodolfo “Rudy” Fernandez, who has a great performance in the final rush of the event.
   Those were the two strongest spots. However, it doesn’t mean there weren’t stars in the other positions. For instance, we have the marvellous Roko-Leni Ukic as playmaker in Croatia. He led the team to the title, guiding the team and scoring tons of points. Also as point guard we cannot forget French Pape-Phillippe Amagou, one of the great surprises of the championship, or Danilo Smigic, who has talent and also charisma.
   Undoubtedly, one of the main starrers of the event was the Greek Sofoklis Schortsianitis. Big, strong and quick, he dominated the championship thanks to his strength moves. When he will become finally pro it will be much harder for him, but now it’s almost imposible for juniors to stop him. If he has a fantastic present, the future is on the hands of Johan Petro, an athletic 210cm and 16 years old French center. Also Latvian Biedrins (1986, too) will have many things to say in the future, just like the Lithuanian talented center, Darius Silinskis. He has moves, height and speed to be a fantastic player in the next years.
   However, there weren’t very good small forwards in the event. Valdas Dabkus (Lithuania) was selected in the starting five, and although it’s true he played good, he wasn’t better than Stratos Perperoglu (Greece) or Gatis Jahovics (Latvia), even Piotr Stelmach (Poland).
   At last, we have to focus on the organization: despite the fact Germans are tidy and exact, the organization of the championship was far from good, the people in charge made an effort but they hadn’t the resources and the knowledge to fix the problems and do it ok. Scouts and agents were charged high amounts by the accreditations, also there were complains about the price of the organization’s hotel, as people paid a much higher amount than what it really costed.
   The first stage was caothic. There were two pavilions, each one in different villages outside Stuttgart. Going from one court to the other was very difficult, as there weren’t buses and it took about 45 minutes by car. Those two pavilions didn’t worth to host this event, in fact they weren’t ready and didn’t even be ok with the rulesets. There was also a big problem with security and supporters, organization didn’t know how to control them.
by Pablo Malo de Molina and Alex Gamez Arroyo

  Croatia is the champion!!! - Jul 21, 2002 - by Yarone Arbel
Finals: Croatia 74 - Slovenia 72
Croatia came to the finals with a legacy. Since 1994 they were in every EC Juniors finals (winning only the 1996 finals). Slovenia came to the finals with a perfect record in the current championship (7-0). After the big games in the Semi Finals it wasn't a big surprise the finals was another thrilling game. Just like the game Vs. Greece in the SF, Slovenia had the last possession after free throws, and ready to win the game, but just like the game vs. Lithuania, Croatia was there to complete another huge come back and take the trophy. The first quarter was balanced, and Croatia had a small 19-18 lead, But the first 4 minutes of the 2nd quarter were all Croatia. Led by Ukic the Croatians made a 13-3 run, and took a 32-21 lead in the 14th minute. Slovenia scored their way back to the game and by half time Croatia had a small 37-34 lead. The teams stayed close during the first minutes of the 3rd, but it was Slovenia who pulled a 54-59 lead in the 29th minute, and at the buzzer of the 3rd Slovenia led 56-59. The domination of Slovenia was complete till the 38th minute. Erazem Lorbek led Slovenia to a 61-69 lead 2 minutes to go, but then everything changed. Once again Croatia made a big comeback to the game. Hrvoje Gasparac nailed a 3 point shot 33 seconds to go, to make it a 70-72 game. Erazem Lorbek made a turnover, and Vujacic sent Roko Ukic to the line 6 sec. to go. The best PG in the championship, who had a bad game in the Sf, gave a 25 pts, 9 rbs and 6 as. performance in the finals, and didn't miss the chance. The game was tied. In the Semi Finals Slovenia were down by one point with 5 seconds to go, but managed to score and win the game. This time, the had one more second with the game tied, but... Miha Fon tried a long pass, but Croatia stole the ball at mid-court, and the same Hrvoje Gasparac drawn a foul just as the buzzer went off. Gasparac hit all his shots in the game till that point. 2/2 from 3 point land, and 2/2 from the line. He stayed perfect, and made both free throws to win the game, and the championship, for Croatia. 74-72.
Croatia (19+18+19+18): Ukic 25 + 9 rbs + 6 as, Kedzo 10, Gasparac 10, Basljan 9, Tomas 8, Pasalic 7 + 7 rbs, Banic 5 + 10 rbs
Slovenia (18+16+25+13): E. Lorbek 32 - 15/21 FG + 7 rbs + 4 st, Vujacic 15 + 6 rbs, Smigic 11, Zagorac 10, Fon 4

  Greece takes the bronze - Jul 21, 2002 - by Yarone Arbel
Greece 82 - Lithuania 67
Greece won the bronze medal in the championship after easily beatingLithuania 82-67. Greece had a 38-29 lead by half time, and after the gap was in double digits in the last quarter, the Lithuanians gave up. Vaseliadis had another good game with 21 points, and baby shaq had a farewell with 18 pts and 8 rbs. Silinskis was the only player in the Lithuanian team to score more than 8 points.
Greece (24+14+18+26): Vaseliadis 21, Schortsanitis 18 - 8/12 FG +  8 rbs, Theos 12, Perperoglou 10 + 7 rbs, Apostolidis 9, Xanthopoulos 8, Vasilopoulos 4
Lithuania (18+11+20+18): Silinskis 15 + 8 rbs, Babrauskas 8, Savostjanovas 8, Pavlavicius 8, Dabkus 8, Jankunas 5 + 9 rbs, Pridotkas 5, Mazeika 3, Joneliunas 2

  Erazem Lorbek is the MVP - Jul 21, 2002 - by Yarone Arbel

E. Lorbek

Slovenian Erazem Lorbek (210-F/C-84) was voted as MVP of the 2002 Junior EC. The starting five of the championship was also voted:
Poing Guard: Roko Leni Ukic (190-G-84, Croatia)
Shooting Guard: Engin Atsur (194-G-84, Turkey)
Small Forward: Valdas Dabkus (202-F-84, Lithuania)
Power Forward: Sofocles "baby shaq" Schortsianitis (206-F-85, Greece)
Center: Erazem Lorbek (210-F/C-84) (210-F/C-84, Slovenia)

  Turkish Juniors got what they want - Jul 21, 2002 - by Serdar Ortakuyu
5-6 Place: Turkey 71 - Israel 50
Turkey got an easy 71-50 win against Israel for the last ticket to Malaysia and took the fifth place without star forward Valentin Pastal..3 players scored double figures and Gokhan Koroglu registered a double double. Limond was the only one for Israel to score more than 6, as Israel played without their injured PGs Yotam Halperin and Lior Lipshitz.
Turkey (9+26+20+16): Murat Kaya 10p , Baris Ermis 6p , Engin Atsur 15p , Goktug Akgor 4p , Ulug Kacaniku 0p, Halil Kurtuza 3p , Gorkem Gurel 2p , Ibrahim Daloglu 10p , Gokhan Koroglu 12p+12r , Selim Saygin 2p , Caner Topaloglu 7p
Israel (9+12+11+18)):Rab 1p , Simin 3p , Synayderman 6p , Kohansky 6p , Zagury 5p , Limond 21p , Kazarnovsky 6p , Ben Chimol 2p

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