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Today’s picks (from the U18 European Championships)

July 28th, 2008 · No Comments

The first phase of the A Division is already done and the least one could say is that there have been some surprise. I will give you a short review about the results so far and also give an update on the B division.

Division A

  • Let’s start with the teams that have to play for staying in Division A. While Belgium and Estonia are in this group without any surprise, Germany and Bulgaria were not awaited here by all of the observers. Belgium did a correct job and with what they showed against Greece, they may come up with a surprise in this classification round and beat some of the teams. Estonia, without their injured top prospect Siim-Sander Vene had no chances to qualify for the Top 12 and will struggle badly to stay in the division. But the teams of Germany and Bulgaria had some quality talent on their roster and their elimination at this stage may be considered as a surprise. While the loss of both SFs for Kay Blümel’s team before the tournament was probably a bigger loss than expected, the Bulgarians lost their European Championship in the surprising defeat against Latvia.
  • In the Qualifying round for the semi-finals, the teams that have the best cards right now are France, Croatia, Greece and Lithuania. All of them have now 2 wins and zero losses. Greece has to play Lithuania, Serbia and Italy which is quite a heavier schedule than they had in the group phase. Additionally, the injury of Vladimir Jankovic will hurt the team setup for the next games as so far, the Greek bench was not that much used besides Mantzaris and Papanikolaou. Lithuania, that beat Serbia at the total surprise of everybody has now the great chance to qualify for the semis. They will play against Greece, Spain and Israel and two wins should be enough to qualify. On the other side of the table, France will have to play against Croatia, Turkey and Latvia. The limited inside play of the French team may hurt them as both Croatia and Turkey have dominating inside guys. For the Croats, playing Russia, France and Ukraine will be a tough schedule but the team showed so far that they are semi-final material.
  • The top scorers of the tournament so far are the inside guys Enes Kanter and Marios Delas. The 16 year old Turk averaged so far 24.3ppg and 10.3rpg while the more versatile Croatian forward comes up with 21.3ppg, 9,0rpg and 2.7apg.

Division B

  • In Division B, we have only three undefeated left, the two favorites Poland and Slovenia and more surprisingly Austria. And these Austrians are already sure to play for the Top8 as Montenegro came up with a surprising loss tonight against the Netherlands. So we will see tomorrow the top game of Group A between Austria and the Czech Republic.
  • Group B has Slovenia above all, as the team around Dino Muric had no problems to beat their opponents by huge margins. Switzerland maybe lost their chances to qualify for the Top8 by getting beat by Sweden today. The Nordic team has their last game tomorrow against the still winless Irish guys and with a win, they will go for the Qualification round for moving up to Division A.
  • Group C has its dominators in the Polish team that has a great bunch of talent on its roster. Only England gave them some trouble so far and Poland will have their last game tomorrow against the surprising Portuguese team. The team around the scoring Joao Soares is already qualified for the Top8 as they have beaten Romania which is the only team that still can come up with the same record as Portugal after the bad loss of England tonight against Belarus.
  • Group D is probably the one with the most surprise as the highly talented Georgian team is not sure yet to move to the next round. They absolutely need a win tomorrow against Finland in order to move to the next round. Denmark has already finished their group phase and surprisingly lost against Hungary in a game that could have secured them a Top8 spot. Now they have to hope on a Georgia loss in order to continue their dream of moving up.
  • The top scorer so far in the competition is the 1991 born Slovakian guard Richard Grznár with 23.3ppg and shooting an incredible 13/19 from behind the arc.

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