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U16 European Championship 2014: 1/4 Finals

August 29th, 2014 · No Comments

After a late arrival to Riga, it was time to follow the quarter finals of the U16 European Championship of Division A. I missed the game between Turkey and Italy so that this report only features comments on the other three games.

France – Bosnia/Herzegovina 82-52

The game started really balanced with both teams trading baskets in the first minutes. Njegos Sikiras was the main scoring option for Bosnia but the real offensive master was Dzenan Musa who found his team mates nicely and added a couple of baskets on his own. On the French side, Jules Rambaut had a pretty good start as inside option while Frank Ntilikina knocked down two nice three-pointers. However, the Bosnian team could create a small advantage at the first break by being more aggressive on the offensive glass. Under the impact of Musa, Bosnia could increase their lead to 7 points but Killian Tillie finally found the basket and after a fast break dunk by Yves Pons, France was back in the game. The momentum had changed and the French players could run away so that they had a 43-35 lead at halftime behind the great efforts of Hugo Blanc and Rambaut in the paint.

The second half started like the first with both teams not able to generate a run so that France remained ahead by 5 points after 5 minutes. Amar Gegic had the leader role for Bosnia as Musa was calmer after getting hit in his face during the 2nd quarter. After a timeout, France had a little run behind Quentin Goulmy’s presence in the paint so that they had a first double-digit lead with 2 minutes to go in the third quarter. Goulmy continued to give a lesson on how to read off-the-ball screens to get open looks in the paint which he finished to bring the sore to 58-44 before the last ten minutes. Bosnia was not really in the game anymore and when Gegic got an unsportsmanlike foul on the break with 7 minutes on the clock and a 18 point deficit, Bathiste Tchouaffé put the nail in the coffin from behind the arc. France brought the game home easily while  Bosnia gave up.

MVP: Quentin Goulmy 20pts (8/12 FGs), 11rebs (8off), 1stl

Serbia – Spain 64 – 78

Spain started well into the game behind their outside shooting with Eric Martinez and Pol Figueras. The Serbian offense was too much 1-1 by Aleksandar Aranitovic and Novak Music so that their coach needed a timeout after 5 minutes. It did not change much as Spain continued their euphoric play and ran away to a double-digit lead in the first quarter. Even a second time-out did not help so that Spain went to the first break on a 21-10 lead over the heavy favorites from Serbia. The team from the Balkan had the better start into the second quarter behind three-point shots of Aranitovic and Matija Radovic and Spain was stuck at 23 points 6 minutes into the quarter. It was Maxim Esteban who freed the Spanish offense with a deep three but Aranitovic answered from the corner and from the wing so that Serbia took the lead before halftime. Spain tried to comeback with Victor Moreno attacking the basket but Radovic added another triple at the buzzer so that the Serbs were up 37-31 after twenty minutes.

Serbia gave away the control of the game again at the start of the second half as Spain hit their outside shots and had found back their energy to force a timeout after 4 and a half minutes being up 44-40. Serbia fell back into their individualistic play forcing too many shots so that Spain had the positive momentum as they could secure the defensive rebound with Francisco Salvador. The Serbian coaches decided to bring back Borisa Simanic but Martinez added another triple that gave Spain their first double-digit lead of the game. While Aranitovic tried to keep the Serbian hopes alive, Martinez added another triple and Figueras crowned a dream quarter for Spain (29-9) to bring the score to 60-46 before the last ten minutes. Aranitovic continued to attack and the Serbian full-court press put Spain more and more in trouble. Serbia came back to –8 with 3 minutes on the clock after an unsportsmanlike foul against Spain. But a massive block by Moreno changed the momentum as Spain added 5 points in a row to go up by 13 again 2 minutes before the end. Aranitovic went for another three-pointer but Figueras secured the victory for Spain with intelligent plays.

MVP: Pol Figueras 17pts, 4rebs, 9asts, 37 minutes

Germany – Latvia 39 – 53

Both teams seemed quite nervous in the beginning as bad choices and low shooting percentages were all around. Germany was unable to use their size advantage in the paint while Latvia could not put the German bigs in foul trouble on 1-1 drive situations. After the first ten minutes, everything remained open as no team could impose their game and the score was tied at 11. Latvia started better into the second quarter as their outside shots were falling but Germany struggled in their defensive rotations badly. Roberts Blumbergs knocked down two threes in a row and the hosts were up 22-15 with 5 minutes to play in the second quarter. Latvia killed their own momentum though on a double foul against them giving Germany 4 free-throws and the ball. The game though remained a battle with very few baskets so that the score stood low until the halftime break. Rodions Kurucs scored his first basket from behind the arc to give Latvia a 6 point advantage that Germany reduced to 4 just before halftime.

Latvia started well into the second half using their only size advantage they had on the PG position to get an 8 point lead. Germany was still unable to score the basketball being stuck in their own structure instead of just playing basketball. Latvia knocked down their shots so that they could go up to +17 while Germany had a nightmare shooting performance. The last quarter did not change much as the Germans were totally off missing every shot and Latvia just doing the necessary. Germany tried a zone defense to change the game but Latvia immediately knocked down a three pointer so that they were up by more than 20 points with 4 minutes to go. The game was over and the hosts qualified for the semi-final while the quarter-final still remains the end-station for German Youth National Teams.

MVP: Rodions Kurucs 8pts, 12rebs, 4asts, 4blks

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