FIBA Men U20: Croatia holds off Ukraine rally

Men U20
France’s Livio Jean-Charles (8) blocks a lay-up attempt during their FIBA Men U20 European Championship game against Slovenia

In one of two FIBA Men U20 European Championship games that required an extra five on Wednesday, the Ukrainians took a mere three minutes to erase the 16-point deficit the Croatians had over them with six minutes to play, to send the contest into overtime. Unfortunately, once the two clubs got into the extra frame the Croatian contingent held on to pick up their first win in Group B, while dropping Ukraine to 0-2. In the other OT contest, Latvia and Russia battled for a solid 40 minutes to a tied score at 75-all, and in the extra five Latvia put up four more to improve their Group C record to 2-0, tied with Spain for the Group lead, while Russia fell to 0-2.

In Group A, Lithuania is the only 2-0 club after a 74:62 win over Germany (1-1). Greece (1-0) picked up their first win in their first game, giving Serbia their second loss. In the second Group B contest of the day, Turkey improved to 2-0 with an 80:73 win over Sweden in their first game of the tournament. Spain earned their second win in Group C with a 14-point in over Bulgaria, who drops to 0-1. Italy took charge of Group D with their second win, an 89:75 victory over the Czech Republic, who hits the basement with Estonia, both at 0-1. France got their first win of the tournament by stopping Slovenia 61:53, evening out the Slovenian’s record to 1-1 on the event.

Group A
Lithuania – Germany, 74:62
Lithuania picked up win number two off the strength of a 14-point advantage they picked up in the second quarter, on their way to a 74:62 win over Germany. The loss drops Germany to 1-1.

Both Germany and Lithuania got out to a slow start in Game 2 of the FIBA Men U20 European Championship, only putting up 14 and 11 points, respectively, but the Lithuanians found what they needed in the second to build a 34:23 lead heading into the mid-game break. The Germans were able to pull to within six in the fourth, but shortly after Lithuania went on a 12:0 run to extend their lead to 18 with just under five minutes to play. Vaidas Kariniauskas was the Lithuanian’s top scorer with 16, and Mindaugas added 11 to the win. Bogdan Radosavljevic was game-high with 19 for Germany.

Men U20
Lithuania’s Laimonas Chatkevicius goes up high against Germany for a dunk.

Greece – Serbia, 79:73
Greece overcame an 11-point deficit mid-way through the third frame and outscored Serbia 25:14 to pick up their first win, 79:73. Serbia falls to 0-2 with the loss.

An 11:0 run by the Greek club late in the second half pulled them up from being down most of the first 20, sending the two clubs into the break with Greece up 38:35. Serbia put together a 16:0 run of their own shortly after the third frame got under way to take a 55:44 lead. Greece pulled to within five at the end of the period, starting the final 10 with Serbia up 59:54. Four minutes into the fourth Greece took the lead and held it to the end. Serbia had the ball with seconds to play and down by three, 76:73, but instead of looking for an open triple to tie, they went inside looking for a foul. What they got instead was the ball stolen from them, closing out any hopes of a comeback. Giannis Papapetrou was game-high for Greece with 18, Giannoulis Larentzakis added 17, and Lefteris Bochoridis tallied 16. Ivan Marinkovic led the Serbians with 17 and Luka Mitrovic dropped in 15.

Group B
Turkey – Sweden, 80:73
In a game that featured 19 lead changes and 16 tie scores, the Turks pulled off their second close contest win in two days, holding off a scrappy club from Sweden to pick up an 80:73 victory and sole possession of the top spot in Group B.

The contest was tight the entire game, with neither squad able to extend a lead beyond four points, until Turkey was able to break away early in the fourth with a 9:0 run that started at the end of the third frame. By the time Sweden snapped their scoring drought, Turkey was up 65:57 with just under seven minutes to play. The gap proved to be wide enough for the Turks to hold off any remaining challenges the Scandinavians put together, giving Turkey a 2-0 record and dropping Sweden to 0-1. Berkay Candan was top man on the day with a 25P/10R double-double for Turkey, Ramazan Tekin added 18 and Samet Geyik dropped in 13. Sweden was led by Jonathan Person’s 21 and Marcus Eriksson’s 15.

Croatia – Ukraine, 77:75
Croatia was rolling in their second game of the tournament, having outscored their opponents 21:10 and 21:16 in the second and third quarters of their contest. Unfortunately for Croatia, someone forgot to remind the Ukrainians that most games are over when a team gets down by 16 with only six minutes to play and they rallied to knot the score and send it into OT…

Ukraine took a one-point lead out of the first 10, outscoring Croatia 17:16. In the second the Croats put up 11 on their opponents to take a 37:27 advantage into the break. They added another five to the total in the third to head into the final frame up 58:43. With just under six to play and the score at 64:48, Maksym Lutsenko fired off three consecutive three-balls to start an amazing 19:3 run that erased the 16-point margin, knotting the contest at 67 with two and a half minutes left on the clock. The score would remain there as neither club could find the cords (Croatia missed six shots in the final 132 seconds) before regulation expired, sending them to an extra five. The Ukrainians got up by four quick in the extra period, but Croatia fought back and took the lead and held on for the win. Luka Panduric was high-man for Croatia with 22, Luka Vlaic added 19 to the win. Lutsenko was game-high with 24 for Ukraine, Vladyslav Korenluk dropped a double-double of 15P/11R, and Klym Artamonov added 16.

Group C
Latvia – Russia, 89:85
The score doesn’t tell the fact that Latvia lead the way over Russia for the better part of their Group C contest, but it took them an extra five to put the Russians away and earn their second win in as many games, while dropping Russia to 0-2.

Latvia took the early lead, outscoring Russia 19:16 in the first frame, only to have Russia pick off two from the gap in the second to send the clubs into the mid-game break with a single point between them, 40:39, in Latvia’s favor. Russia took the lead in the third, outscoring their opponents 20:18 to head into final frame up 59:58. Latvia playmaker Kaspars Vecvagars was sent to the line for a pair of singles with 27 seconds left and his club down by a point. He split the pair, knotting the score at 75, and giving the ball back to the Russians with 27 seconds and the shot clock turned off. They held the ball for the final shot, but inside of taking the ball to the hole, Artem Komolov put up a three-ball, which he came up empty on, sending the game into an extra five. Latvia controlled play in the OT period, made their free throws and hit the three when needed. Russia essentially handed Latvia the game in the last minute, turning the ball over on their final two possessions. Vecvagars was game-high with 19 for Latvia, Janis Berzins added 19, and Andrejs Grazuilis tallied a 12P/16R double-double. Vladislav Trushkin led Russia with 21, and Aleksandr Gudumak contributed a 10P/14R double-double.

Spain – Bulgaria, 78:64
Spain used a 21:11 third quarter to put on the distance needed to earn their second win, by defeating Bulgaria 78:64 in a Group C contest. The loss drops Bulgaria to 0-1.

The first half was a tight contest, with Spain getting up two after the first, 17:15, and then adding another two to the total on a Daniel Diez buzzer-beating lay-up at the end of the half to give Spain a 38:34 margin at the break. Spanish guard Jaime Fernandez took control of the contest early in the third, dropping in three long-balls to extend Spain’s lead to double digits. That advantage grew to 19 at the start of the fourth, 67:48, but Bulgaria didn’t give up, cutting the gap to 14 at the end of the game. Fernandez was game-high with 21 for Spain, Alejandro Suarez and Diez added 13 each. Pavlin Lvanov was tops for Bulgaria with 15 points, and Keyan Karamfilov tallied 10.

Group D
Italy – Czech Republic, 89:75
Italy got up by as many as 26 over the Czech Republic in their second Group D contest, before settling for a 14-point victory and the top spot of Group D. The loss drops CR to 0-1.

The Italians put the contest away early, getting up by 10 after the first 10, 23:13, then adding eight more in the second, 27:19, to retire into the dressing room with a 50:32 lead. They extended the lead in the third, getting up by 67:41 with half the third frame to play. The Czechs kept fighting, while the Italians cruised through the second half, allowing CR to cut the gap to eight after a 10:0 run by the Czechs. Italy added 10 of their own to ice the contest. Stefan Tonut was team-high for the Italians with 14, and Matteo Imbro added 13. Samuel Faifr was game-high for CR with 21, Martin Kriz added 19 in the defeat.

France – Slovenia, 61:53
Slovenia put up a fight against France, but got shut down in the final frame, giving France their first win of the tournament and each club a 1-1 record after two games.

Neither team could get any consistent offense working in the first half, with France getting out to a 14:10 lead after the first quarter and then a 27:22 advantage at the end of the first 20. They both got things working a bit better in the third, with Slovenia scoring two less points in the third than they scored in the prior first half. At the end of the first 30 minutes France was still up, but now it was a three-point contest, 45:42, France. In the fourth an 11:0 run by the Frenchmen was the difference, as they put up five, 16:11, to earn a 61:53 win in their second contest. Livio Jean-Charles dropped in 18 for France, Boris Dallo added 13, and Mouhammadou Jaiteh pulled down a 10P/12R double-double in the win. Luka Rupnik led Slovenia with 18.

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