The last eight nations are lining up for the FIBA U16 European Quarterfinal as the search for a 2015 European champion continues, but who will get gold? There are even match ups aplenty in the first knock out stage of the competition as the pursuit for gold heats up. There’s a lot to look forward to on Friday, but even before the FIBA U16 European Quarterfinal begins there are myriad talking points among the key contests of the round.
France vs. Spain
France is still on course to defend its European Championship crown, the 2014 winners will square off against old rival Spain in the last eight. Despite being champs, Les Bleus are heading into this contest with an inferior record this year, with 4 wins and 2 losses compared to Spain’s 5 wins and 1 loss. Spain has picked up its wins consecutively over the last five rounds of contests, while France scraped into the Quarterfinals with an admittedly big win over Finland.
France will be looking to get their defence into action once more, the team has the best record at the back in the tournament, conceding fewer points on average per game (58.2 points per game). However, to get that tight defence the French have to curtail attacking ambition and also have second lowest average points per game haul (59.2 points per game). If Spain can make the game open they may find some joy in exploiting a France defence that is not used to being stretched. The Spanish are the fourth highest per game scorers (73.6ppg), so certainly have the attacking prowess to break France’s backcourt.
Bosnia and Herzegovina vs. Germany
Both teams have identical 4-2 records, with both nations winning their first two contests before losing games three and four, before bouncing back to win their last two. Bosnia and Herzegovina has blown hot and cold, but so have the Germans, so it is in the finer details where this contest may be decided.
The Bosnians are the third best scorers (75.7ppg) in the competition and come into the FIBA U16 European Quarterfinal vastly outscoring their opponents (Germany has 62.8 points per game). The Bosnians are also well ahead in rebounds (51.3rpg to 40.8rpg) and assists (18.2apg to 13.2apg), so that stats suggest if Bosnia and Herzegovina finds it scoring touch then they will win the game. Of course, Basketball is not that simple and Germany have displayed a knack for grinding when the going gets tough.
Finland vs. Lithuania
After wrapping up qualification to this stage early, Finland looked under motivated against France last time out and were beaten big. That put the only blemish on Finland’s record (5 wins, 1 loss), but the question is can the team turn it back on for a contest against the tournament hosts? Lithuania are hardly entering the contest in riotous form though, having lost their last two games… the first four wins got the job done for the hosts.
Finland has impressed by doing everything right, while not necessarily standing out in any department. That is shown by the fact that the team is middling in most areas, such as points, rebounds, steals, assists, and blocks per game. It is a formula that has worked very well so far, but there is a feeling that more will be needed if Lithuania decide to score hot. And score hot the hosts can, the Lithuanians are the best net gathers in the competition, currently averaging 77.8 points per game, over 10 points more than their opponents here (66.8ppg).
Turkey vs. Serbia
Two of the competitions form teams will clash to decide a berth in a semi-final, and both Turkey and Serbia enter the contest in good touch. Turkey opened with four consecutive wins before losing to Spain in Game 5 and then bouncing back against Lithuania in the last round. Serbia are riding even higher after a disappointing start to the 2015 U16 European Championship. The Serbs dropped their first two contests and looked in trouble, but have since won four on the bounce to enter the Quarterfinal as the undisputed form team.
Turkey’s 76.6 points per game average means they will fancy their chances if they can get inside the Serbian defence and into the paint, while a 34 rebounds per game average means they can shut out second chances at the other end. Serbia are no slouches though at either end of the hardwood and have grown into the tournament. Now commanding a 70.3ppg average for scoring, Serbia will be looking to improve again.