FIBA Men U18 European Championships tip off

The FIBA Men U18 European Championships tipped off in Latvia on Thursday with a full slate of Round 1 games in all four groups. Host club Latvia did their part to get their event off on the right foot with a huge win over Bulgaria, 85:57, much to the delight of a solid home crowd. Serbia and France picked up their initial wins in Group A over Lithuania and Slovenia, respectively; Russia took care of Bosnia and Herzegovina, while the Czech Republic stopped Greece, 68:67, in Group B; Spain pounded Italy in Group C, 88:61; Croatia destroyed Ukraine 81:49, and Turkey outlasted the club from England, 76:58.

Group A
France – Lithuania, 67:58
FIBA Men U18France built a 16-point first-half lead, only to lose much of it to a scrappy Lithuanian squad in the third quarter. The French held on and picked up win one of the U18s. Charly Pontens paced France with 19, and Axel Bouteille added 14. Domantas Sabonis had a big day for the Lithuanians, dropped a 19P/16R double-double.

Serbia – Slovenia, 88:56
In another Group A blowout, the Serbian opened their contest with Slovenia with a 46:21 halftime lead and kept on from there. On the way to their 32-point win, the Serbs dropped in 24 fast-break points. Vasilije Pusica nearly came up with a triple double scoring 11, but coming up short with 9 rebounds and 9 assists. Milenko Veljkovic did tally enough to pick up a 10P/10R double-double in only 10 minutes of play. Domen Janc led the Slovenian scorers with seven points, while Matic Rebec added six points, six rebounds and six assists.

Group B
Czech Republic – Greece, 68:67
In the closest game of the day, the Czech Republic held on to defeat Greece 68:67 in the opening Group B match. The Czechs were up by eight with two minutes left in the game, only to have Greece get hot and pull to within a point on a triple with 4 seconds remaining. The Czech Republic were able to run out the clock, but the one puts a stamp on the group to watch in the tournament. Martin Peterka lead the victors with a 19P/11R double-double, Radovan Kouril added 17, and Prokop Slanina hauled in 17 rebounds on the night. Alexandros Spyridonidis led the Greek club with 15.

Russia – Bosnia and Herzegovina, 68:55
After a close first half that saw the clubs heading into the locker room with the score 28:27 in favor of Russia, the Russians blew out the third 10, 22:10, to give Russia their first win of the tournament. Alexander Martynov led Russia with 13 points and 7 rebounds, while Imran Polutak paced BIH with 12 points and 9 rebounds.

Group C
Spain – Italy, 88:61
Spain got their U18 European Championships off to a solid start with a 27-point win over Italy. The Spaniards opened the contest with a 28:16 first frame, and took a 44:32 lead into the break. They opened the game up in the third, outscoring Italy 24:16 and then tacked on seven more in the fourth to grab the early lead in the group. Juan Hernangomez was game-high for Spain with 18, Agusti Sans added 16, Alberto Abalde dropped in 14, and Ilimane Diop scored 13. Tommaso Laquintana led Italy with 16 points.

Latvia – Bulgaria, 85:57
The host club Latvia outscored Bulgaria in every quarter, including putting up 12 in the second to take a 51:35 lead into the dressing rooms at the half. Latvia continued piling on in the second half, adding six more to their margin in each the third and fourth frames, to end the contest with a solid 28-point advantage. Bulgaria’s Aleksandar Vezenkov led all scorers in the tournament with 24 points and also led the field in the rebounding category, grabbing 17. Anzejs Pasecniks tallied a 16R/11R double-double for Latvia, while Kristaps Porzingis added a 15P/11R double-double of his own. Davis Geks contributed 11 points to the Latvia total.

Group D
Croatia – Ukraine, 81:49
The defending U18 European Champion Croatian club got out to a slow start, but by the time the contest was over they had build a 32-point margin and took their first game in Group D play. The Ukrainians hung with Croatia for as long as they could, overcoming an 13-point margin to get back into the game, only to fall victim to Croatia’s shooters and solid defense. Karlo Zganec was game-high for Croatia with 19 points and 9 rebounds, Marko Arapovic added a 10P/12R double-double and Lovro Mazalin contributed 14. Oleksandr Kobets and Illya Sydorov led the way for Ukraine with 12 points each.

Turkey – England, 76:58
Turkey fought off a motivated club from England to come up with their first win in Group D, 76:58. Not too many months ago the English Basketball Federation found out that they were losing their funding, only to successfully petition for it’s return. The funding allowed the U18s to compete in the European Championships and they are looking to make the best of the opportunity. At the end of the first half, England held a 36:34 advantage. Turkey took the lead in the third, outscoring England 21:16. The English were able to knot the score at 58 with seven minutes to play, but that was it for England as the Turkey scored 18 unanswered and England would not find the bottom of the net again. Kenan Sipahi was game-high with 15 for Turkey, while Cedi Osman added 14. Jules Dang Akodo paced England with 12.

FIBA Men U18 European Championships

Group A Matches[matches league_id=32 group=A template=summary dateformat=”M. j, Y”]

Standings – Group A[standings league_id=32 group=A show_website=false template=nolink]

Group B Matches[matches league_id=32 group=B template=summary dateformat=”M. j, Y”]

Standings – Group B[standings league_id=32 group=B show_website=false template=nolink]

Group C Matches[matches league_id=32 group=C template=summary dateformat=”M. j, Y”]

Standings – Group C[standings league_id=32 group=C show_website=false template=nolink]

Group D Matches[matches league_id=32 group=D template=summary dateformat=”M. j, Y”]

Standings – Group D[standings league_id=32 group=D show_website=false template=nolink]

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