France have defeated host nation Montenegro 75-68 in a packed house in Podgorica on Saturday night, to be crowned champions at the FIBA U16 European Championship.
Led by tournament MVP Killian Hayes, who proved to be a level above his peers throughout the tournament, France led for all but 11 seconds of the Final, racing out to a 28-14 lead by the end of the opening quarter. Spurred on by the partisan home support, Montenegro fought back, but lacked the final push to complete the comeback.
With 21 points and 8 rebounds, Hayes had saved his best for last, finishing every game in Podgorica in double figures for scoring.
The win completed an U16 double for the French, who won the FIBA U16 Women’s European Championship on home soil, just one week ago.
Despite the loss, it was still a celebration for the hosts, who created history, just by making the Final and claiming their country’s first-ever European Division A medal.
They were joined on the podium by Serbia, who defeated neighbors Croatia 75-71 in the bronze medal game.
MVP Hayes was joined on the All-Star Five by the Montenegrin duo of Stefan Vlahovic and Bojan Tomasevic; Djordje Pazin of bronze medalists Serbia; and Croatia’s leading scorer Matej Rudan.
Earlier in the day, there was relief for Germany, who defeated Sweden to avoid elimination to Division B for 2018. Sweden will go down, along with Finland and Russia, who already learned of their fate a day previous.
They will be replaced by Division B champions Greece, who defeated Netherlands in Saturday’s Final in Sofia, Bulgaria. Grabbing the third promotion ticket on offer were Georgia, who held on to defeat Great Britain by a point in the Third-Place Game.
The FIBA European youth summer will come to a conclusion in Skopje, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, on Saturday, August 26, when the FIBA U16 Women’s European Championship, Division B, draws to a close.