Host nation Greece rallied to defeat Turkey 64-61 in the final of the Under-18 European Basketball Championship in Volos, central Greece last Sunday.

Turkey was on the verge of spoiling the party for the host nation, looking ominous as it strode out to a commanding 14-point lead.

However, Greece’s persistence paid off as it managed to peg back the lead and wrestle it from the Turks just four minutes from the end. Its young stars then kept their composure under pressure to win the prized trophy.

Star players Vassilis Charalambopoulos, Giorgios Papagiannis and Dionisios Skoulidas look set to form the nucleus of what could be another golden generation for Greek basketball.

The final’s MVP, young superstar forward Vassilis Charalambopoulos, speaking on Sport 24 Radio, commented after the game:

“Both teams had done their homework and were well prepared. The Turks were very good and made some big shots, and got out on the scoreboard. We missed a lot of shots due to a lack of composure. When we were 14 points down, I can’t say I was too optimistic as we were playing poorly in the first quarter. However, we started the second quarter strongly, scored some important shots and turned the game around.

“At the break our coach calmed us down. He told us to go out and enjoy the final in our own country as we’re unlikely to have such an opportunity again, and to go out and play hard in defence, to find our rhythm in attack, which is what happened.”

He added: “The most important thing, however, is that from this playing group, there will emerge players who will play at a high level and be able to strengthen the men’s national team.”

*Source: Kathimerini;