Greece takes Euro U-18

The Greek Under-18 basketball team won the European Championship last night after beating Lithuania 57-50 in the final. The Greek boys landed the trophy after scoring eight wins in eight games in Pyrgos and Amaliada, western Peloponnese. This is the first time Greece has won this cup, after finishing second last year. In the past, Greece has also won the World Championship at this level. Lithuania was the better team in the first period of the game, leading by nine points at one point (2-11), but the Greeks soon recovered and took the lead before the first half ended (27-25). The second half was a nervous and tense affair but the Greeks powered ahead in the final quarter, taking a clear 51-42 lead that proved unassailable in the end. «It is a historic day for us today,» said national coach Giorgos Vlassopoulos. «We did not play well in this game and we were very nervous, but it does not matter. With this team, I am never afraid of losing,» he said a few minutes after the end of the final. The leading scorers for Greece were Constantinos Sloukas with 16 points and skipper Nikos Pappas with 14, who later partied wildly with the cup in their hands. Greece was undeterred by the fact it was missing one of its key players, Vladimir Jankovic, who got injured at the end of the first group stage. Yesterday he received the fair-play award of the competition, as a consolation for missing out on the latter stages of the championship. This new success for Greek basketball highlights the fact that the sport has a great future and that clubs need to tap into this source of talent before it goes to waste. «All clubs now have to look at the younger players and give them a playing chance,» said Constantinos Papanikolaou.