TEL AVIV (Israel) – For the first time since 2007 and 2008, a team defended their FIBA U20 European Championship title. The hosts Israel defeated Spain 92-84 to repeat what Serbia did 11 years ago and become just the second team to defend their title at this level of competition.
The game was as close as they get in the first half, which ended 42-42. But Israel switched through gears after the break, surviving a Spanish string of four straight three-pointers to start the third quarter before embarking on a big run of their own, scoring 50 points in the second half.
Deni Avdija and Yam Madar were the one-two punch coach Ariel Beit Halahmy needed, collecting 40 points between them. Avdija scored 23 on 9-of-16 shooting, with 7 assists, 5 rebounds, 4 blocks and 1 steal also to his name, and Avdija got an additional piece of silveware, too. He was named the Most Valuable Player of the FIBA U20 European Championship 2019, with averages of 18.4 points, 8.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 2.4 blocks and 2.1 steals per game. His teammate Yam Madar, who finished with 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting, and a team-high 8 assists was also selected to the All-Star Five.
The role players also played their part perfectly, Tomer Porat scored 11 points, including a memorable shot-clock beating two-pointer over the backboard in the second half, Raz Adam and Eidan Alber combined for 20 for a 52 percent shooting Israel in the Final.
Spain got 14 points from Miguel Gonzalez, and Josep Puerto and Arnau Parrado both had 13 off the bench. Carlos Alocen’s 10-point, 11-assist double-double with 5 steals was not enough, Spain had to settle for silver, their first podium finish since 2016. Carlos Alocen and teammate Sergi Martinez received All-Star Five honors.
Third place on the podium went to Germany, who achieved the same feat last summer. Philipp Herkenhoff, also member of the All-Star Five, scored 20 points to lead the team to a 73-65 win over France, who could not count on the starters Ivan Fevrier and Sofiane Briki because of their injuries, and the third starter in Ludovic Beyhurst suffered an injury early in the game, too.
The Final was played in front of 3,500 fans in the Shlomo Arena. The tickets were sold out in just five minutes on the eve of the Final, with more than 20,000 people left on the waiting list for their ticket.
There was celebration in the bottom part of the standings, too. Italy defeated Poland 86-63 to collect the 13th spot and remain in Division A for the next summer. Poland join Serbia and Latvia, who were already relegated to Division B even before the last day.
New members of the FIBA U20 European Championship, Division A are Portugal, Czech Republic and Belgium, who advanced through the FIBA U20 European Champioship, Division B, played in Matosinhos.