Croatia were crowned the 2013 Future Stars International Basketball Tournament champions on Sunday, after defeating England 73-63 in the final at Surrey Sports Park, Guildford.
Croatia, who are the current defending European Under-18 title holders, held off a late rally from England who came back from a 13 point deficit to get within 4 points with less than a minute to play.
However, with the shot clock about to expire, after a solid defensive possession from England, Croatia threw up an improable shot under pressure from 12 feet that dropped through the net to give them a 6 point cushion with 47 seconds left, which they rode out for the win.
“I thought we competed well today,” said head coach Steve Bucknall after the game. “I felt like we dealt with their offensive speed and execution a lot better than we did the day before, but they’re such a good team, everytime we made a move they came right back and made another one.
“It was a chess game between the coaches and at the end of the day this is why they’re European champions. They’ve got the quality and they know how to deliver under pressure.”
Kingsley Okoroh had his best offensive performance of the summer so far, as he finished with 22 points, whilst Luke Nelson added 15 as the only other player in double figures.
It won’t be too long before the two teams match-up again, as they are both in Group D at this summer’s Division A European Championships in Latvia which tips off in a little over two weeks.
“We’ve got a long way to go but we’re a good team,” added Bucknall. “If we can play with the likes of Croatia, to be fair, that means we’re not bad! I’m looking forward to the continued improvement of the team, and if that happens I think we can compete at that next level.”
Next up for England is a trip to Italy, for a tournament where they will face Division A teams Greece, Ukraine and Italy itself, as their final preparation games before the Euros.
3rd/4th Place Game
A feisty London United-Harefield Academy upset Bosnia & Herzegovina 83-76 to take third place in this year’s tournament.
Despite a first quarter that saw Bosnia & Herzegovina hardly miss, led by three triples from Bojan Lulic, London United hung tight, and managed to tie it up at halftime behind nice play from Andy Tamayo.
A strong fourth quarter, led by tournament MVP Elvisi Dusha, who scored 11 points of his 18 points and a tough momentum-swinging layup in the final minutes, gave London United-Harefield Academy the upset.
Andy Tamayo had 21 points to lead LUHA, whilst Korry Callum added 18. Bosnia & Herzegovina were led by 27 points from Lulic, with Haris Curevak adding 10.
3rd London United-Harefield Academy
4th Bosnia & Herzegovina