The quarter finals of the U20 European Championships have been played today in a boiling hot Pala Getur in Lignano Sabbiadoro. Here we go for the review on the four games of the day.
France – Czech Republic 80 – 58
Both teams started well into the game with three points shots and scores close to the basket. France though got in small trouble once the Czech Republic changed their defense to a 1-3-1 zone where “Les Bleus” multiplied the turnovers. But two mades from behind the arc changed again the physionomy of the game and France was back in the lead. But the Czechs did not fold under the athletic pressure so that the score remained tied during the first quarter. The second ten minutes showed a similar game with the Czechs changing defenses while France had a multitude of second chances. The team around Timothe Luwawu could create a lead of 4 points which forced the Czech Republic to take a timeout with 4 minutes on the clock. Lucas Dussoulier killed the Czech zone with two threes in a row and we had a 10 point difference. The score at halftime was 42-31 in favor of the Frech team and it did not look like the Czechs could get back into this game.
The start of the second half was in favor of the French again and crowned by a beautiful alley-oop of Petr Cornelie to bring the score to 49-33. Everything went in favor of the favorites now as Adam Pechacek was called for hooking and got his third foul and the lead grew to 20 points. France started to switch in their second unit but the difference remained at 20 until the end of the third quarter. The last ten minutes were without any excitement at all as both teams were satisfied with the result or could not change it. So France qualified as first team for the semi-finals.
MVP: Petr Cornelie 11pts, 10rebs, 2blks
Spain – Belgium 67 – 55
The game started quite intensely with a lot of small fouls that went uncalled. Spain used this to create a small gap but Belgium came back into the game with Emmanuel Lecomte´s shot creating and Ismail Bako closing the paint. But Belgium had to take a first time out after Marc Garcia could attack the rim too easily that create a 5 point difference. But hustle and defense gave the Lions the possibility to bring the score back to 16-13 after the first ten minutes. With Lecomte and Thomas Akyazili on the bench to start the second quarter, Belgium had a bit of a rough start while Juancho Hernangomez continued to aggressively attack the rim. Lecomte came back and turned it over twice but Andy van Vliet made a big three to keep his team in the game. The Spanish offensive game struggled so that Bako could tie the game at 27 with 3 minutes to go. It was a real fight between two teams on the same level and Vincent Kesteloot gave the Belgians multiple second chances with his hustle so that the underdog e by 1 point at the half.
Spain started better into the second half and could take the lead back to go ahead by 5 points as the Belgian offense was not that much team-oriented anymore. Hernangomez remained the key player for Spain while their defense closed dwon Lecomte. The bad luck continued for Belgium as Bako twisted his ankle at a crucial moment and Spain used this to go up by 9. Belgium looked lost on both sides of the court but Spain could not really take a greater advantage out of it so that it was a 11 point difference before the last 10 minutes. Belgium did not give up wth Bako back on the court but they had problems to come back as their offense was too dependent on Lecomte´s creation. The Baylor guard though reduced the difference to 8 with 4 minutes left in the game while Romain Boxus even forced a Spanish timeout at –6 15 seconds later. Hernangomez blocked Lecomte hard when he tried the layup to come back to 4 which looked to be the dagger as Spain scored a 4-0 run to get back to a double-digit advantage with 2 minutes to play. Belgium tried to come back but everything was said and done. Spain advanced to the semi-final.
MVP: Juancho Hernangomez 17pts, 15rebs, 2asts, 2stls, 2blks
Turkey – Latvia 70 – 58
Turkey had the better start into the game as Latvia looked a bit out of focus in the beginning being late on nearly every ball. The Turks could therefore create a first significant lead with 12-7 after 5 minutes. Latvia was not even close to compete with the Turks who ran ahead to 20-7. Latvia finally started to play basketball a bit but the score was 22-11 for Turkey at the first break. Latvia played a zone defense that put the Turkish offense on hold but the Baltic team was unable to score on their side as well. The Turkish press defense started to have its effects and Latvia turned the ball over too many times. The game remained though on a poor level with lots of turnovers, bad choices and strange shots. At the halftime, the score was 34 – 25 in favor of the Turks.
The second half was not really better at the beginning but Latvia managed to stay alive as Rolands Smits made an important three. Turkey though was able to increase their lead a bit because of the poor Latvian offense. Berk Ugurlu scored a triple after yet another offensive rebound of his team and Latvia needed a time out with 3 minutes remaining in the game. Latvia changed to a short 2-3 zone defense and they could score a quick 7-0 run that brought them back in the game. This defense completely revigorated the Balts even if their offense remained static. But Ivargs Zivgurs scored the putback on the buzzer and it was a 5 point game again. Kristaps Gluditis made a few big plays to start the last ten minutes but Berk Ugurlu and Emircan Kosut helped Turkey to stay ahead.Turkey seemed to finally know how to attack the zone defense but shot shotmaking was probably the biggest thing as James Birsen was present from behind the arc. Latvia seemed to have finished their game now with the exception of Gluditis and Birsen and Kosut destroyed the ast chances for the Latvians to come back.
MVP: James Birsen 17pts, 6rebs, 2asts
Serbia – Lithuania 82 – 69
It was a tight game at the beginning with both teams executing well their offensive plays and going hard on defense. Nobody could create a gap but it was Domantas Sabonis who set a first sign with a massive block on the defensive end. Paulius Valinskas did some damage for the Lithuanians but Serbia stayed in the game because of Marko Tejic’s presence in the paint. The Serbs created a small lead at the end of the first quarter. Lithuania was forced to take a quick timeout at the beginning of the second quarter as Dejan Davidovac nailed a three pointer to bring the score to 20-13 in favor of Serbia. The game went now in favor of the team from the Balkan as they stole a couple of balls on the press defense. Lithuania was unable to bring the ball to Sabonis in a good situation so that Serbia could run a multitude of fastbreaks. Nikola Rebic scored at will on the set offense at that moment so that we had a 20 point difference before halftime.
Lithuania tried to come back in the third quarter and they could reduce the difference to less than 20 points. But everything was said and done and Serbia made it to the semis without a surprise.
MVP: Dejan Davidovac 16pts, 9rebs