FIBA Men U18: Croatia ousts Russia in QFs

 FIBA Men U18
Spain’s Agusti Sans drives past France’s Olivier Yao-Delon during the FIBA Men U18 tournament.

Just as it happened in the recent U20 tournament in Estonia, all four quarterfinal contests went to the clubs playing out of the FIBA Men U18 Group F. Turkey, Latvia, Spain, and Croatia, all having competed in Group F, have all won their quarterfinals matches against Serbia, Lithuania, France, and Croatia, respectively.

The quarterfinal results set up Croatia vs. Latvia and Turkey vs. Spain semifinals, to be played on Saturday.

Croatia – Russia, 82:72
The number 4 seed from Group F, Croatia, used a 23:12 first quarter and then held on the rest of the way, to upend the top seed from Group E, Russia, providing the spectators that showed up with one of the biggest upsets of the tournament.

With an eight point run mid-way through the first frame, Croatia was able to build an 11-point lead early on. In the second their lead was a much as 17 points with 20 seconds to play in the half, but a pair of singles cut the lead slightly sending the clubs into the break with the Croatians up 44:29.

Early in the third Croatia extended their lead to 19, but a 9:2 run by the Russians cut the margin to 12, 50:38. By the end of the third 10 Russia was able to pull to within eight, 56:48.

The Russians hit the first five of the final frame, pushing Croatians lead to 13, only to have Russia counter and cut the lead to six, 69:63. Croatia ran the score back up to nine and a quick triple brought the gap back to six with a minute and a half to play. Croatia would outscore the Russians 6:2 over the rest of the contest, to earn a spot in the semifinals with an 82:72 victory.

Paolo Marinelli scored 22 points and dished off 9 assists to lead the Croatians. Karlo Zganec added a 15P/11R double-double in the win. Viacheslav Fecorchenko was game-high with 23 points for Russia, also adding 9 rebounds. Alexander Martynov dropped in 19.

Turkey – Serbia, 71:67
Turkey won a hard-fought contest over Serbia that wasn’t decided until the final seconds, but in the end, the Turks earned a spot in the semifinals with a 71:67 win.

Serbia got out to an early 7:2 advantage, only to have Turkey counter with 10 unanswered points. Serbia then hit seven in a row of their own to retake the lead. At the end of the first 10, Serbia held a slight 21:17 lead.

Turkey ran off eight unanswered mid-way through the second to build a six point lead, only to have that gab wiped out with 19 seconds left in the half with a Milenko Veljkovic jumper, knotting the score at 36. Kartal Özmizrak dropped a jumper with two seconds to play, giving Turkey a deuce up heading into the break, 38:36.

The gap increased to as many as six for Turkey in the third, but Serbia was able to take the lead twice late in the frame, but giving the lead back up with four seconds to play, heading into the fourth with Turkey up 51:49.

The first four points of the fourth quarter went to Turkey, then a triple after a jumper, gave Turkey a seven point advantage. With four minutes to play a Dogukan Sanli triple gave Turkey a double-digit lead, 67:57, only to have Serbia then knock-down five to slice the margin in half. With 23 seconds to play Serbia drew within three, but Metecan Birsen split a pair of free throws to give Turkey a two-possession lead. In the final seconds the Serbs missed a three and two jumpers inside the arc, giving Turkey the win and a spot in the semis.

Sanli and Birsen scored 13 each for Turkey, while Birsen added 11 rebounds for a 13P/11R double-double. Rade Zagorac scored a game-high 18 for Serbia.

Latvia – Lithuania, 71:54
Host club Latvia used a big third quarter to earn a spot in Saturday’s semifinals with a 71:54 win over Lithuania.

A six-point run mid-way through the opening quarter gave Latvia the early lead, 16:11, at the end of the first. The Lithuanians countered in the second with eight unanswered early on to take the lead, but Latvia pulled even and the clubs spent the rest of the half exchanging baskets. By the time the final buzzer sounded on the first 20, the score was tied at 35-all.

The hosts went on a 12:2 run through the heart of the third frame, building a 49:40 lead in the process. Those nine-points would hold for the rest of the quarter, and at the end of the third 10, Latvia was up 56:47.

The first four points of the fourth went on the home club’s side of the scoreboard to give them a 13-point advantage. The Lithuanians wouldn’t be able to cut the margin and Latvia kept adding on until they had a 17-point lead with a minute and a half, wrapping up scoring for both teams with the hosts winning 71:54.

Kristaps Porzingis was game-high with 17 for Latvia and Roland Smits added 12. Gediminas Zalalis was team-high for Lithuania, while Domantas Sabonis added an 11P/10R double-double.

Spain – France, 68:59
Spain was a point down as the fourth frame opened, but by the time the horn sounded at the end of their 40 minutes the Spaniards had put up 10 on the Frenchmen to earn a spot in the semifinals with a 68:59 victory.

Spain controlled the game early, getting up 18:13 after the first frame and then extending their advantage to 34:26 at the end of the half.

The lead changed hands in the third with the French opening the second half with an 11:1 run. Spain countered with eight straight, but France closed the quarter with the last five to take a one-point lead into the fourth, 50:49.

The fourth quarter was all Spain, putting up 10 on the French to close out the contest up nine, and getting a spot in the semis.

Spain’s Marc Garcia was game-high with 18, while Alberto Martin and Agusti Sans added 12 apiece. Axel Bouteille and Guerschon Yabusele dropped in 14 each for France.

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