Today started the second round of the FIBA Europe U18 European Championship of Division A in Metz and Hagondange. I made the trip once again to Hagondange and it was worth it because I saw two great games tonight.
- The first game was the matchup between Slovenia and Croatia. And the game look decided after only 2 minutes when Toni Prostran went down on a jump shot reception and turned his ankle. The head of the Croatian team on the bench, Slovenia made an impressive run behind the unstoppable Jakob Celasek who nailed 4 out of 4 three pointers to go for 16 points in the first 10 minutes. The second quarter was then all Croatia with a good team effort against a Slovenian team where Edo Muric scored 13 of the 15 points of his team. With Prostran back on his feet, but still slightly injured, Croatia took over the game behind the PG’s great leadership. The guard from Zadar play less in a scoring role but with his drives, even being only on one foot, he created the necessary spaces for guys like the athletic Dino Jakolis or Matteo Juricic who both had their best games of the tournament so far. Dragan Sekelja continued to do the dirty work inside and scored at will against the poor Slovenian inside players and Croatia secured a very important win in the end.
- The second game of the evening was the eternal duel between France and Spain. And it were the guests that opened the game with one of the nicest plays of the tournament so far concluded by a dunk from Joan Sastre. The forward from Cajasol is playing a very interesting tournament so far in his role as scoring wing by the way. The second quarter was then all France behind 13 points of the combo Evan Fournier and Fabien Paschal. Paschal finished the game finally with a good 16pts and 12rebs effort and imposes himself more than ever as one of the interesting prospects of the tournament. Spain on the other hand played a nearly perfect third quarter (23-10) with Alberto Jodar showing glimpses of his talent and Ignacio Llovet still doing whatever he wants in the paint. During the last 10 minutes, France was nowhere close to come back in the game which was not only the fault of the players. More on this later on.
- This is only a Scouting website, but today I have to add something on coaching too. The French U18 coaching staff has raised some eyebrows already over the last years with their particular coaching style, but today, I must admit that a major reason for the loss against Spain were two terrible coaching decisions in the final quarter. With 9 minutes to go in the Final quarter, France asked for a TimeOut as Spain scored on their first offense of the period. As the game went on, and the TimeOut still in the waiting line, France had a momentum changer with a terrific block shot by Fournier and 4 quick fast break points to come back into game. But instead of cancelling the TimeOut, it got called on the next interruption at a moment where France really did not need it but Spain and so it stopped the French run. In the final minutes of the game, I did not understand either why the coaching staff only brought Leo Westermann back in the game with 1 minute left as he is the only player of the French team capable of hitting clutch FTs and 3pts shots. But whatever, I may have changed nothing but I personally did not understand it.
- The play of the day went to Edo Muric who carried alone Toni Prostran on his arms to bring him of the court after his injury. Nice move by a member of the opposing team.
- The gym was again pretty crowded today in Hagondange and a multitude of different professional teams were in attendance again.
- Finally, there will be no Videos of the games anymore here on the website as FIBA Europe told me that I don’t have the rights to film nor to publish these as my website does not fall under the TV network category nor does it have rights to film during the championship. Ok, I am sorry, but I guess the sponsors of the event would have been happy to have their logos seen by hundreds of Video viewers.
- In the U20 tournaments, let me just tell you that Greece won Gold by beating France in the Finals. I will come back to this during the next weeks. In the B Division, please also note the surprising title won by the Netherlands who promoted together with the Czech Republic to Division A in 2010. They will replace Israel and Belgium.