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U18 European Championship 2013: 1/4 Finals

July 27th, 2013 · No Comments

The U18 European Championships of Division A are played this year in Riga. I made the trip to Latvia to cover the last three days of the event but arrived only for the second quarterfinal so that my report does not include a game report on the matchup between Croatia and Russia.

Turkey – Croatia 71-67

Turkey was the more star-stacked team in this matchup where the score remained balanced over the first three quarters. Driven by Kenan Sipahi, the Turkish team looked more talented but they could not create a lead as Serbia fought hard with Rade Zagorac beind their main scorer. Behind an increasing defensive pressure, Turkey made a first real break to start the last ten minutes as they went up to +8. Serbia cut reduce the gap behind some tough drives of Ognen Jaramaz but James Birsen knocked down the big three point shot with 110 seconds on the clock to bring his team up by 8 again. Brano Djukanovic from three point territory and Jaramaz with antoher energetic drive cut the lead though back to only three points with 23 seconds remaining in the game. Birsen missed twice from the free-throw line but got another chance for early rebounding and he made one shot. Djukanovic missed the three point shot and even some additional offensive rebounds did not help Serbia. Turkey qualified for the semi-final.

Latvia – Lithunia 71-54

The game started quite balanced as both teams wanted to win this one but struggled to put the ball in the basket in the beginning. Anzejs Pasecniks missed a couple of close ones but Latvia went ahead behind a great first quarter of Rolands Smits. For Lithuania, Domantas Sabonis did a bit of everything with low post scoring, passing and rebounding but at the halftime break, the two teams were tied. Kristaps Porzingis did not play that many minutes because of some minor foul trouble but he managed to show his skills with a nice spin move in the paint for example.

Porzingis rejected some shots to start the second half which gave his team the opportunity to create a small lead. With Sabonis on the bench, Lithuania could not score much so that Latvia went up to 9 points before the last quarter. Lithuania struggled to reduce the gap in the beginning of the last 10 minutes so that Latvia could increase their lead to double-digits. Porzingis continued to dominate in the paint with a variety of moves while Sabonis could not really find the way to the basket. The decision was there and the hosts qualified for the semi-final.

France  – Spain 59-68

Spain started really well into the game as they shut down Damien Inglis and found different scorers on offense. But it was Axel Bouteille who brought France back with a corner three so that they were down only 3 points after 8 minutes. But Spain took back the control of the game and were up 5 on the first break. The Spanish guards were putting a lot of pressure on the French backcourt and generated multiple turnovers that the Iberians used for easy baskets. Insisting inside where France was particularly weak, Spain created a double-digit lead behind Ilimane Diop’s presence in the paint. This did not change much until the half time break where Spain was up 34-26.

France started better into the second half with Inglis scoring immediately with the foul followed by two fast break baskets that forced the Spanish coaching staff to take a timeout. It did not change much as Spain continued to struggle and France took over the lead on a three pointer by Etienne Ory. This did not shock the Spaniards though as they answered with two consecuvtice baskets to go up again. Alberto Martin continued his great game that he had until that moment by scoring twice from behind the arc and Spain was up 6 again. Bouteille was the key player for France to bring them back with multiple offensive rebounds and Ory floated the ball in for a 1pt lead before the last quarter.

Spain took again the lead in the beginning of the last quarter with Marc Garcia showing his scoring qualities. France scored only 4 points in the first five minutes and struggled to find good positions. Garcia hit another triple while Inglis missed twice from behind the arc and the gap was nine points. France tried their luck from behind the arc to reduce the difference as fast as possible but Inglis could not make one attempt despite having open shots. Spain secured the victory and avanced to the semi-final of the tournament.

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