The second day in Lignano was already my last day for this time as I can not stay for the Finals on Sunday. Here are the game reportss on the matches from Saturday with two very interesting semi-finals.
Belgium – Czech Republic 81 – 96
Belgium started red-hot into the game with a 10-0 run after only 90 seconds. But the Czechs aswered with Martin Peterka finding good positions in the paint multiple times so that they tied the score at 16 in a high-speed game. David Skranc showed some promising things for the Czechs and they could even create a lead on their own to be up 26-19 after the first ten minutes. The second quarter was then again in favor of the Belgian Lions where Manu Lecomte went for 13 points to give his team a 45-42 lead at halftime.
The third quarter was again fully in favor of the Czech Republic as Adam Pechacek showed his skill set and the Belgians were too dependant on Lecomte on offense. The lead for the Czechs grew to double digits before the last ten minutes. But this time, there was no more lead change as the Czechs managed to keep their advantage until the end of the game.
MVP: Radovan Kouril 10pts, 7rebs, 7asts
Lithuania – Latvia 80 – 82
It was not a good start for the Lithuanians as Domantas Sabonis was quickly called for two fouls while Rolands Smits was doing a bit of everything for the Latvians. After 6 minutes, Lithuania took a first time out as they were trailing 10-17. Following the short break, Lithuania found better into the game and Paulius Valinskas scored 8 points to tie the score before Kristaps Gluditis had a last drive on the buzzer to keep Latvia up after ten minutes. Sabonis was back on the court and he helped his team to come back on the score around the five minute mark. Lithuania even generated a nice lead with Sabonis hitting shots around the key and Latvia stayed in their 2-3 zone defense. Kristaps Gluditis reduced the score a bit so that at halftime, Lithuania was up 42-38.
The third quarter remained balanced as nobody gave up the possibility to qualify for the game for the fifth place. Both teams showed a good team effort without anyone really standing out. Therefore the score was 53-52 in favor of the team mates of Sabonis before the last ten minutes. Gluditis had a good phase that gave Latvia the lead back quickly while Smits was cleaning the boards. Latvia moved ahead by four points 5 minutes before the end as they managed to keep Sabonis defensively. The Gonzaga big had his fifth foul called and Gluditis added another triple but the game was not over as Zydrunas Jurgitis answered from behind the arc and Valinskas gave his team a 1pt lead with 38 seconds on the clock. Davis Geks scored the runner and Lithania failed to score but Gluditis could only make 1 free-throw. Valinskas was the go-to-guy and scored a tough step back mid-range jumper to tie the score at 70 with 7 seconds to go. Gluditis missed the three and the tipin did not fall either. Overtime.
Gluditis took the lead for Latvia but the Lithuanians wanted the win as well. Edvinas Seskus answered on the backdoor and the score remained balanced throughout the five minutes. Davis Geks though gave Latvia a 3 point lead on two offensive rebounds so that Lithuania had the last offense with 13 seconds on the clock. Sajus scored twice from the line while Paze only had 1 but the last shot by the Lithuanians for the win was missed by Kubilius.
MVP: Kristaps Gluditis 22pts (8/18 FGs)
Spain – France 70 – 61
Spain started well into the game with threes from Alberto Abalde and Alberto Martin while Ilimane Diop contested the french domination above the rim. Guerschon Yabusele then opened the field goal account for the French on a nice threepointer to bring the score to 8-4 after 5 minutes. But the French offense struggled staying with a single field goal for several minutes so that Spain slowly created a lead. Juancho Hernangomez scored some nice baskets but Arthur Rozenfeld kept France in the game with two big drives to the hoop to bring the score to 15-10 at the first break.
France continued to struggle offensively at the beginning of the second quarter so that their coach had to take a first timeout after 2 minutes at the score of 19-12 for Spain. It did not help as Hernangomez scored another one with the foul. Spain opted for a zone offense that France was unable to attack and a second timeout was needed with 5 minutes on the clock and a 15 points difference. France had a small run behind Alpha Kaba’s presence in the paint so that Span took their first timeout with 3 and half minutes to play. France was in the game now and Kaba added another one on a nice low post move. The French team was now in full confidence mode and scored several baskets in a row to cut the difference to only 5 points at the halftime.
Spain came again red hot out of the break and scored a quick 5-0 run by Abalde. France seemed asleep again and Diop scored a nice one on the break to give his team a 44-31 lead 3 minutes into the half. Rozenfeld kept France in the game from the corner but neither Yabusele nor Petr Cornelie created on offense against the long Spanish lineup with Diop, Hernangomez and Jose Nogues at SF. Timothe Luwawu thought he had made a big one with the foul but it was an offensive foul that was called on him. Lucas Dussoulier though knocked down a tough three to brought the difference back to 10. Diop made his fourth foul just before the last break but Yabusele made a stupid one 1 second before the horn that Spain used to be up by 9.
France started the last quarter with a good defensive sequence but their offense remained poor. Spain used this to get back to a double-digit lead on a nice three-pointer by Nogues. Cornelie remained without any touch on offense on multiple put backs but Luwawu kept the difference in the double territory on a hard drive to the basket. Rozenfeld showed the way with another triple and France was back at –6 with 5 minutes on the clock. He even reduced it to 4 from the line but was called for an unsportsmenlike on the same play. Spain was struggling now, and Yabusele scored the tough one on the break to bring the score to 61-58. But Diop and Hernangomez gave Spain a little air in the sticky arena while Rozenfeld tried everything to keep the hope for the final alive. But they could not come back in winning distance looking probably for the wrong options on offense. Luwawu did not get the roll on a desperation drive so that Spain sealed the deal from the FT line to advance to the Final.
MVP: Alberto Abalde 18pts, 3rebs, 3stls
Serbia – Turkey 81 – 58
The game started quite balanced with both teams playing hard on defense. Serbia looked more present though as Turkey had to hustle hard and made their shots on the 24s buzzer only. This gave them some confidence though and they created a first small lead at 11-8 after 6 minutes. Emircan Kosut continued to make his shots from around the key and the Turks increased their small advantage slowly towards the end of the quarter. But Nikola Rebic and Ognjen Jaramaz had other ideas and made two threes that reduced the score to 17-16 in favor of Turkey.
Serbia had the small momentum and went ahead 20-17 three minutes into the period. It was not a very attractive game at that moment but Serbia controlled the pace and slowly increased their lead because of their higher pressure on defense. Marko Guduric and Marko Tejic increased the score to 28-17 as the Turks remained scoreless for minutes. This draught lasted for minutes but the Serbs had then a double-digit lead. Rebic showed his passing skills on the drive when Kartal Özmizrak finally made the first field goals for his team. But the Serbian advantage remained alive so that the halftime score was 37-25 in favor of the Serbs.
The two teams came out “hot” from the lockers as there were some small exchanges between the players that made the referees intervene to calm down. Serbia stayed cool and kept their lead during the beginning of the period behind two triples of Guduric. The difference was made but the Turks were still hopeful after an +1 play by James Birsen. But Serbia did not give them any chance to come back as Dejan Davidovac knocked down the triple from the corner. Serbia was up 56-38 before the last ten minutes and everything looked said and done.
Turkey threw in everything they had in the beginning of the last quarter but Jaramaz ontinued his festival of shot creation while the Turks got called for some hard fouls. They could come back to –14 but the Serbs prevailed their advantage thanks to Rebic, Guduric and Jaramaz doing the job.
MVP: Marko Guduric 21pts (4/6 3FGs), 3rebs, 5asts, 5stls, 1blk