|14 July 2011|
U20 European Championship
The U20 European Championship tipped off in Bilbao, Spain on Thursday afternoon when France became the first winner of the tournament with a 49-33 victory over Croatia.
Two strong defensive efforts by both sides resulted in a low score as Croatia didn't reach double-digits in any of the four quarters and hit only 12 field goals the whole game in low percentages.
France took the lead early in the game, jumped to a double-digit gap before the half and made their final run in the closing quarter.
Evan Fournier was the top scorer for France with 18 points and 7 rebounds, Leo Westermann added 10 points with 8 rebounds.
Ivan Batur was the only player to reach double-digits for Croatia with 10 points.
The first minutes already exampled the future of the game, as both sides struggled to collect points.
France took the front seat first after a long shot by Westermann who set the score on 7-2 after 4 minutes, but Ante Cutura brought Croatia back just one point behind, 15-14 after 13 minutes.
Yet that was also the sign for France to make their move.
Following a timeout the French took on a 7-0 run which made the Croatian coach, Ivan Velic, to have a line-up makeover with 4 subs, but that didn't stop the French run and by half time it was a 25-15 game.
Back from the break the defensive orientation continued, yet the gap remained the same.
Both sides failed to connect points but France managed to maintain the safe lead and entered the last two minutes of the third quarter up 34-24.
Rudy Gobert added a dunk to seal the scoreboard before the last quarter, but once the last ten minutes started France still had a weapon to use.
Fournier and Joffrey Lauvergne stepped up and with together with Gobert's dunk combined an 11-0 run, to make a 45-24 French lead with only seven minutes to play, more than enough to lock the win.