Kaunas, Lithuania – Action in the 2015 U16 European Championship is heating up in the second stage, with only three teams sporting unbeaten records. Turkey, Lithuania, and Finland are all 3-0 and are on track to advance to the knockout stage of the competition. Finland in particular, has been a pleasant surprise in the tournament and have stepped up their game, considering they narrowly avoided getting demoted to Division B in 2014.
Greece vs. Turkey, 63-87
An explosive first quarter allowed Turkey to pull ahead and gain comfortable control of the game. They dominated the Greek squad, 9-28 and were not at any serious risk of losing the lead in the game. Turkey controlled the glass well and kept Greece in check with a combination of solid defense and superior offense. Onuralp Bitim had a monster game for Turkey with 32 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and four steals.
England vs. Lithuania, 67-102
This game was close and tightly contested in the early going. Lithuania started to gain momentum in the second period, sparked by an 8-0 run. After the halftime break, the hosts built on their lead further and did not look back. Their snowballed as England stayed helpless to cut into their offensive run. Lukas Kisunas took care of business in the paint for Lithuania, notching a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. England is 0-3 in the second stage, but still has a chance to put up some wins on the board.
Spain vs. Germany, 76-54
This win was crucial for Spain, now 2-1 and are now in third place in the group. Germany slides to 1-2 and are now pressured to turn things around. Spain dominated Germany in the paint and Sergi Martinez was just too much for them to handle. He compiled 29 points and 10 rebounds.
Serbia vs. France, 69-62
Serbia claimed a much-needed win in the second stage of the competition; their first in what they hope will be a string of wins. France, now 2-1 are in third place, behind Finland and Montenegro. Serbia edged out France with some excellent plays in the last two minutes to turn the tables on them. Boris Latinovic made the go-ahead basket witch shifted the momentum back in favor of the Serbian team. Marko Pecarski was the top performer for Serbia, tallying 19 points and 12 rebounds.
Croatia vs. Finland, 75-84
After a game-long shooting drought from long range, the Finns exploded late in the game. Their pristine record was preserved thanks to the solid shooting by Tuomo Antikainen as well as the points put up by Elias Valtonen. Antikainen made five three-pointers in the fourth period to finish with 21 points, while Valtonen poured in 23 points of his own. Finland’s streaky shooting bailed them out this time, but how long will dipping into that well hold up in the later stages? For now, Finland looks like they are in good shape. Croatia has still to register a win in the three games they have played in the second stage.
Montenegro vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina, 77-73
This was arguably the most exciting game of the day. Montenegro was able to dig deep and come up with a strong fourth-quarter rally to come from behind and take the victory. Bosnia and Herzegovina’s collapse in the fourth quarter on both ends allowed Pavle Titic to spearhead his team’s rally with just over three minutes remaining in regulation. Montenegro will need to bring their A game once again as they are set to face Finland in their next game.