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U18 European Championship 2010: Semi-Finals

July 31st, 2010 · No Comments

The second day in Lithuania started with some sight-seeing in the Old Town and the first decision of the event came when Germany managed to dominate Sweden and avoid relegation. On the other hand, Bulgaria is sure about their future: Division B.

Afterwards, four teams still had the hope to qualify for the U19 World Championship 2011 in Latvia. The first nation to earn their ticket today was Poland after they dominated Greece. Linos Chrysikopoulos was nowhere to be seen while Mateusz Ponitka continued his shooting extravaganza and finished with 7 out of 8 attempts from behind the arc. The second nation to reach the tournament next year is Croatia after battling back from being lead at halftime. The French offense was chaotic in the decisive moments while Dario Saric and his guys made the shots they had to in order to win this one.

Lithuania – Serbia

Lithuania had the better start in the game with several quick offensive plays answered only by a three of Vukasin Petkovic. Vytenis Cizauskas split the defense twice and went for the score to bring the Baltic team a first larger lead at 9-3. Serbia answered with 4 points in the paint and none of the teams managed to score afterwards during several offenses. Jonas Valanciunas was more aggressive offensively than yesterday and gave Bozo Dumic the second foul after only 5 minutes. The Lithuanian Center attacked the basket on every possession against the slower Nemanja Besovic and Lithuania went up 17-9. Serbia took a time-out that was followed by a lucky three-pointer from Nikola Siladi. But a big rejection from Valanciunas and a Deividas Pukis dunk initiated some quick baskets by the Lithuanians to bring the score to 22-14 after the first quarter.

Serbia opened the second quarter with an unsuccessful back-door alley-oop play which was answered by a score and the foul on Dovydas Redikas. Stefan Nastic did a great job for Serbia as he drew a foul from Valanciunas and was not afraid to dunk on the fast break over the Lithuanian big guy to bring it back to 25-20. Djordje Drenovac even brought Serbia back at –2  and Besovic equaled the game on an incredible low post move. Time-out Lithuania. Cizauskas missed the play out of the break and Bogdan Bogdanovic hit the mid-range jumper to give Serbia the first lead of the game. The hosts continued to struggle and Serbia used this in order to increase their lead up to 8 points and held Lithuania at only 4 points in the second quarter at that moment. After big pressure on the opening pass, Serbia managed several times to break the press and come to 3 against 1 situations or free-throws which they could not conclude at best though. Edgaras Ulanovas stopped the run with a nice drive and Redikas added a three-pointer to cut the deficit to 32-35 with 44 seconds on the clock. Two points on each side later and at halftime, the score was 34-37.

Serbia had the better start in the third quarter with 4 quick points and the Lithuanian fans started to get a bit nervous. But Zygimantas Skucas scored an important layup and the foul shot on the break to bring the game to a tie at 43. Both teams were unable to score during several minutes and even Valanciunas missed a dunk against the giant Besovic. The Partizan player ended the draught with one of his soft jump hooks and Serbia advanced again to +4 on two free-throws of the excellent Bogic Vujosevic. Siladi played the steal and had a massive dunk on the break but Valanciunas answered with the layup and the fourth foul of Dumic. Nastic dunked a big one which was answered by Rolandas Jakstas to bring the score to 51-56 before the last ten minutes.

Serbia increased the lead again to 60-51 after two nice jump shots of Vujosevic and Nastic. In the offense, Lithuania was unable to find a good position for Valanciunas and gave several low-post plays to Jakstas. Cizauskas scored one of his typical floaters but Marko Gujanicic answered with an even more difficult mid range score. Nastic did an amazing job in the paint to prevent the Baltic team to score. Siladi slammed another big one on the break to bring the lead for the first time to more than 10 and it was hard to imagine how Lithuania could turn this game around in their favor. Bogdanovic continued his mid-range jump shot festival and Redikas missed the open three to cut the lead. Pukis missed 2 out of 4 free-throws which did not help the Lithuanians to come back earlier. But their huge pressure over the whole court put Serbia in problems as they could not score on several offenses. Zygimantas Skucas hit the baseline jump shot and the Green and Whites were back at 59-66 when Pukis hit the huge three from the corner. Bogdanovic struggled hard with his handles on a drive and turned a crucial possession over but the Petar Lambic had the massive steal to get it back. Valanciunas grabbed the defensive rebound on the Serbian attempt and went immediately to the line to make both of his shots. 64-66. Serbia was unable to score three times in a row after offensive rebounds and Cizauskas scored the layup to tie the game. Lithuania did not foul and forced a difficult shot, Skucas grabbed the rebound and got fouled immediately with 1.5 seconds on the clock. He scored the first one, missed the second one and the game was over. What a crazy finish, Lithuania plays the Final. Petkovic will probably struggle to sleep tonight after his last second foul.

MVP: Zygimantas Skucas 11pts (2/5 FGs 7/11 FTs) 7rebs 2stls 6fouls drawn

Latvia – Russia

Russia opened the scoring in the second semi-final on a nice back-door play but Davis Bertans answered with a huge three-pointer with the defense in his face. The Latvian forward was everywhere in the beginning as he scored the first six points of his team but also rejected one shot and had one rebound. Dimitry Kulagin scored the three-pointer that tied the game at 6 after four minutes of action. Bertans continued his solo with another 3 point shot from the corner in a low scoring beginning. With the last minute of quarter starting, it was Karlis Apsitis who scored as first Latvian next to Bertans. Russia run the break with Kulagin pushing the ball but they were not precise enough to get an early lead. Game tied at 11 after the first ten minutes.

Russia opened the second quarter a bit better behind some more fast break  scoring by Kulagin but the Latvians remained in the game and even took the lead on two free-throws of Edmunds Dukulis. But two quick breaks by Alexander Varnakov forced the Latvian coach to take a time-out. Bertans hit the very long three but the overall level of the game was quite disappointing compared to the previous game. Sergey Karasev answered him and the score was tied at 23 with 2 minutes on the clock. The Russian hit another long distance shot and Russia went to the locker room with an 28-23 lead.

Alexander Tikhonin had some important plays for Russia in the beginning of the 2nd half while Latvia did not really find a way to score against the Russian defense. But Kaspars Vecvagars hit a three with the backboard which looked like a wake-up call for them. But even if Janis Timma scored a basket on the offensive glass, Russia increased the lead back to 6 on a Andrey Loginov score. Karasev hit his third triple of the game and Latvia needed a time-out at 28-37 with 4 minutes on the clock. The crowd continued to support the Latvians but at 4/17 2FGs and 5/22 3FGs, it is tough to win a game. Without playing great on offense, Russia however increased their lead to be up 47-33 before the last 10 minutes.

Vladislav Trushkin opened the 4th quarter for Russia with another three-pointer and he scored another one a few seconds later to make it a twenty-points game. Karasev hit the incredible three point shot on the 24 seconds buzzer and the game was more than done. The last minutes of the game were not of any interest anymore as both teams finished the game slowly. Russia will now face Lithuania in the Final on Sunday evening.

MVP: Dimitry Kulagin 11pts 6rebs 2asts 5stls

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