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FIBA U19 World Championship: Quarter-Finals

July 8th, 2011 · No Comments

The FIBA U19 World Championship Quarter-Finals started this afternoon n Riga. Se below for our reports on the 4 decisive games.

Poland – Lithuania 75-87

The Polish team came out strong and could create an early lead in the first quarter-final of the tournament. But Lithuania could quickly adjust and used the errors of Poland on offense to have several points on the break. Jonas Valanciunas struggled a bit in his finishes but his quick jumps helped him to get multiple offensive rebounds and second chances. In the middle of the second quarter, the team from the Baltic Sea could increase their lead to nearly twenty points but the Polish started a come back behind the hustle efforts on defense by Grzegorz Grochowski. But they could not reduce the gap to less than eleven points in the first half and Dovydas Redikas put them in trouble with the buzzer beating three at the half. With Mateusz Ponikta looking like having twisted his ankle, the chances for Poland in the second half did not look really good.

Lithuania started strong in the third quarter behind an alley-oop of the backcourt by Valanciunas but the Polish team did not give up. Even if Ponitka went back to the bench after only 2 minutes because he was really injured, Przemyslaw Karnowski tried to go hard on the Lithuanian big guy but did not manage to score on him. But Poland remained in the game with their fighting spirit. With Valanciunas joining the bench with 3 fouls, Karnowski scored 2 FTs to bring the lead back to 10. Poland continued to insist on Karnowski inside who could not get stopped by the Lithuanian defense and they reduced the gap to –7 before the start of the last 10 minutes. Valanciunas came back to the court for the beginning of the 4th quarter and this immediately helped Lithuania to go back up to +12. Michal Michalak who played a great game that far did an involuntary unsportsmanlike foul as a fourth and the Polish coach even tried to go back with Ponitka who could only hobble on the court. With Karnowski already out with 5 fouls, Michalak could bring his team back to –9 with his sixth triple of the night and 3min30 on the clock. But it was not enough as the Lithuanian team used some fast breaks to bring this one home and reach the semi-finals.

MVP: Jonas Valanciunas 26pts (8/19 FGs – 10/11 FTs), 24rebs, 3asts, 1to, 5blks, 50eff

Russia – United States 79-74

The second semi-final opposed Russia and the United States in a still nicely filled Arena Riga. Dmitry Kulagin started very well for the Europeans as he hit three three-pointers in the first five minutes against a US defense that gave the Russians several open shots from outside. On the other side, Patrick Young did some damage in the paint by hustling and going to the offensive rebound but the offense of the Americans remained very focused on 1-1 situations in the beginning. Kulagin continued to hit his shots to finish the first quarter with 16 points and a 25-18 lead over the US. While the Russians insisted on taking outside shots, the US went hard to the basket to use their size and athleticism and cut the lead to two points on a big dunk. The difference between both teams continued to bounce around 3-4 points but the scoring bonanza of Kulagin had stopped. On the US side, 8 players had scored at least two points at that moment and it was Meyers Leonard who did a great job on the defensive board to avoid 2nd chances for the Russians. But a long three by Alexander Varnakov and a great drive by Kulagin at the buzzer gave Russia a 10 point advance at halftime.

The United States did not change much in their game approach coming out of the locker room with no real offensive plays and still opening the doors for Russia on defense. Jeremy Lamb tried to lead his team by scoring but the Russians remained focused on the game. Lamb did a bit of it all with jump shots, rebounds and defense while the Russians started to miss their jump shots. This brought the score to 49-46 with 2 minutes to go in the second quarter and Lamb played a good Pick-and-Roll with Leonard who scored with the foul to tie the game on the bonus free-throw. Kulagin still remained scoreless and the US could take a 1 point lead before the last break. The Russian guard scored immediately 5 quick points to give the lead back to his team but the US were not impressed by this start. But then Vladislav Trushkin scored two big three pointers with about 4 minutes to go that gave the Russians again a 5 point advantage to enter the money time. The Americans tried to come back with tough drives which they could not connect and Trushkin hit another huge three on the 24s buzzer with 40 seconds to go. The US did not find a solution to cut the lead and Russia advanced to the semi-final to face Lithuania on Saturday.

MVP: Dmitry Kulagin 21pts (8/13 FGs – 5/6 3FGs), 12rebs, 3asts, 27eff

Australia – Serbia

The third quarter-final of the day started pretty slowly as neither team found its rhythm early. Serbia took a slight advantage at 3-10 before the Emus pushed by their loud fans started to score a couple of baskets. For Serbia, Nemanja Besovic used his size really well and was surprisingly not pushed around that much in the paint as you could expect. Together with Marko Gujanicic, they dominated the boards in the beginning of the game while Australia could only hit some long range shots. In the 2nd quarter, Serbia continued to play very well and even added the show with several nice passing suites and a couple of dunks. Australia was unable to raise their always extremely high energy level against a Serbian team that looked really bad in preparation a few weeks ago but was now playing on a totally different level. But their never-give-up attitude gives the Ozzies the possibility to come back into the game quickly once the opponents starts to struggles against their aggressiveness. At the halftime, everything was still possible for both teams as the Serbian team only lead by 4 points.

Serbia could increase their lead a bit in the 2nd half despite the Australian lock-down defense on Aleksandar Cvetkovic. Djordje Drenovac came up with a couple of nice baskets but Hugh Greenwood and his team mates did not give up that early. A triple by the curly guard was then followed by his third foul that got topped by a T against the Australian top scorer that far (16pts). From that moment on, Serbia improved their offense even further and generated the largest advantage of the game with 1 minute left in the third quarter. Gujanicic hit the three pointer that put the score to 67-48 in their favor. Australia started the last quarter very well behind another three-pointer by Greenwood and a put-back by Owen Odigie. Greenwoord continued his scoring from behind the arc and managed to bring the deficit back to –13 with 5 minutes on the clock. But this rush was only a short-term hope for the team from down-under as the Serbs could again bring their lead back to 19 with 3 minutes remaining. The game was decided and even if Australia still fought hard, they could not come back and had to let Serbia advance to the semi-finals.

MVP: Aleksandar Cvetkovic 15pts (6/9 FGs), 5rebs, 4asts, 1stl, 24eff

Argentina – Croatia 81-76

The South-Americans had the better start into the game behind 7 quick points of Franco Giorgetti with Patricio Garino starting on the bench. And Argentina used their good start to go through the first quarter putting the Croats in a lot of trouble as they could only score because of the individual talent of Dario Saric who was creating opportunities for his team mates or himself. But the Gauchos managed to have the score at +10 after the first ten minutes as the Croats did not find a solution against their defense. With Garino in the game, the Argentinians maintained their advance as the guard score two three-pointers in a row but Saric answered with one of his own. The Argentinians managed to be several times in the Croatian passing lanes which gave them some easy baskets on the fast break. Marcos Delia did an amazing job sharing the ball from the high post or attacking Saric of the dribble in the paint and helped Argentina to go up by 14pts 2 minutes before the break. Saric was insisting on his 5-6m shots from the top after multiple crossover dribbles but they did not fall for him. This helped the South-American team to stay ahead and go to the halftime at 46-32.

Croatia started a lot better into the second half with 6 quick points but then the typical errors reappeared. Sloppy passes, turnovers and an unsportsmanlike foul helped the Argentinians to bring the lead back to 13. But the Argentineans started with some errors on their side  as well which forced their coach to take a time-out with 3min30 left in the third quarter. The Europeans cut the lead even further before Garino with two more triples could bring it back to double-digits. But Saric was not happy with that and scored in the paint while Boris Barac hit the important three-pointer before the third quarter buzzer. 59-54 in favor of Argentina. Toni Katic scored two nice baskets in the paint but Garino did it all with the defensive rebounds and the shot from the corner to find back the five-point lead. Saric scored some more big shots and the excellent Argentinian PG Juan Giaveno missed two important free-throws as both teams were in the bonus with 5 minutes to go. But Croatia did not manage to get the lead for the first time in the game and missed a couple of shots badly while the Argentinians scored some free-throws to go up by 6 points again. Saric tried to bring his team back but he struggled finding his way to through the Argentinian defense and even got rejected badly by Delia with 45 seconds on the clock. And after multiple free-throws, Argentina managed to seal the deal and be the total surprise in the semi-finals.

MVP: Patricio Garino 21pts (7/12 FGs – 5/7 3FGs), 8rebs

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