2015 U18 European quarterfinal preview

2015 U18 EuropeanThe 2015 U18 European Championship is entering the quarterfinal stage on Friday with the last eight nations lining up to fight for a place in the last four. The competition has been fierce so far and the countries left in the tournament comprise the elite of U18 Basketball in Europe. Contesting the Quarterfinals will be Spain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Turkey, Serbia, Lithuania, Germany, France, and Greece.

Every clash is a mouth-watering tie:

Spain vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina
Spain tumbled into the Quarterfinals with a loss against Latvia in the last round of group ties, while Bosnian and Herzegovina punched its ticket with an emphatic win over Italy.

Heading into this clash, both teams are well matched away from the net, with both averaging 40.2 rebounds per game, and Spain only just edging per game assists (16 to 13.8 per game). The Bosnians will have to contend with a Spanish team that has scored more though, 68.7 to 63.7 points per game. Spain are also better from the field in this tournament, but the Bosnians are capable of putting in a stern defensive display.

Turkey vs. Serbia
A repeat of last year’s final will see reigning champs Turkey take on Serbia in the 2015 U18 European Championship. Serbia will be out for revenge, but has been in patchy form and reached this stage in fourth place from Group E with a win over the Czech Republic. Turkey on the other hand has been impressive and with plenty of promise in this group of young players they could be making it a third consecutive championship.

Interestingly, Serbia is out scoring Turkey, while also grabbing more rebounds, handing more assists, and enjoying better percentages from beyond the arc. If hoops worked on paper, the Serbs would be confident, but on the hardwood this is an intriguing contest.

Lithuania vs. Germany
Germany has been a surprise in the competition so far, and comfortably qualified for the last eight from second place in Group E. Lithuania too has impressed and also cruised through Group F to finish second in the race for qualification.

Both teams like to work the basket a lot, and both have averaged 70.8 points through the scoring. So, where will this contest be decided then? Lithuania is more successful on the offensive board, so will be looking to build upon that and pick up more second chance points. Germany however will counter by taking advantage of their opponent’s sloppy discipline to score from the charity strip. Lithuania has the worst personal foul record amongst the remaining teams, averaging 20.7 per game.

France vs. Greece
Again, the tale of the tape would tell us that France will have too much for Greece in this quarterfinal decider, but as tournament hosts the Greeks have the wind in their sails. France topped Group E and has arguably been the most impressive team so far this year, while Greece has put in numerous gutsy displays this week.

The home team will have to dig deep again to stop a France team that looks better in most areas. Les Bleus are the best scorers in the tournament, averaging 76.5 points per game, more than 10ppg more than Greece’s 64.7. The French also boast the best field goal percentage, whether that be from two point range (49.4%) or downtown (42.1%). In other areas the teams are closely matched, so if form counts as anything Greece will have to rely on home court advantage and passion to stop the French train from rolling on.

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