FIBA U18 European Championship, upsets aplenty as semi’s lock

FIBA U18 European ChampionshipIt was a day of surprises in Volos as the semi-finals of the FIBA U18 European Championship were set, with the final four set to be played on Saturday. Reigning champion Turkey progressed, but needed to go big to see off a Serbia team finding its feet in the Quarterfinals. Tournament hosts Greece shut down a French team that had arguably impressed the most up until this point, but fell against a solid all-round game from the Greeks.

Spain was upset by a Bosnia and Herzegovina team that had never even made the quarter final stage before, now the Bosnians will be contesting for a place in the final. In the other contest, Lithuania outfought Germany in the closest tie of the round to book its place in the semis of the FIBA U18 European Championship.

Spain vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina, 64-70
Bosnia and Herzegovina downed Spain to pick up the most illustrious win in the country’s history, while also making sure the nation made the final four of U18’s for the first time. Indeed, it is the first time Bosnia and Herzegovina has contested any semi-final in any age tier, and the win came against hot favourite Spain.

In fact, the Spanish were leading comfortably through thirty minutes of play, holding a lead of 55-47 and early in the fourth quarter they extended to 10 points. However, the Bosnians dug deep with a 9-23 (including 14 unanswered points) run through the final act that turned the game around and paved the way for a win. The winners outscored Spain in the paint, grabbing 44 points compared to 34 points, while the Spanish will rue sloppy shooting from the charity strip (6-of-14, 43%).

Edin Atic was in great touch for the winning effort as he made 28 points and 12 rebounds for an impressive double-double. Ibrahim Durmo followed with 12 points.

Xabier Lopez plundered 18 points to lead Spain, while Sergi Garcia added 17 points and Ramon Vila made 12 points.

Turkey vs. Spain, 90-79 OT
A repeat of last year’s final saw defending champions Turkey see off rival Serbia in a thrilling contest. Serbia has been warming into the competition and took Turkey all the way, but the title holders went big in an overtime period to settle the game and remain on course for a third consecutive U18 crown.

Turkey had edged the first half 42-40, but Serbia raced through the third period with a 13-21 run that made it 55-61 through thirty minutes. In the fourth quarter Turkey fought back to tie the scoreboard, but Serbia could have won the game with the last attempt. Instead, Borisa Simanic’s shot found rim but not net, falling outside the basket and sending the game to overtime with a regulation score of 70-70. The missed opportunity killed the Serbian effort and Turkey found momentum for a 20-9 run in the added stanza.

Furkan Korkmaz topped the champs with 21 points and 11 boards, followed by Enes Taskiran with 17 points, Ercan Bayrak with 16 points. Omer Al and Omer Yurtseven added 12 points apiece.

Aleksandar Aranitovic led Serbia with 16 points, but Vojislav Stojanovic impressed with a double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds. Nikola Cirkovic nailed 12 points, while David Miladinovic and Simanic grabbed 10 points each.

Lithuania vs. Germany, 73-71
Lithuania and Germany played out a chess battle on the hardwood in Volos, with neither team giving space to the other and producing a fascinating contest. It was tight throughout as the teams traded buckets and the lead, but the Lithuanians managed to hold onto possession late on and shaded a narrow win that puts them in the semi-final for the first time since 2012.

Things may have been easier for the German’s if they had cleaned up their three point shooting, with the team managing to drain just 4 of 20 from beyond the arc. Lithuania took 47 rebounds of the glass during the game, and looked to the bench for 45 points. In contrast Germany managed just 29 points from the sides.

Laurynas Birutis recorded a double-double in the win, managing 15 points and 14 rebounds, while Tadas Sedeekerskis also added 15 points to the Lithuanian cause.

Kostja Mushidi led the scoring for Germany with a game high 18 points, with Tibor Taras logging 15 points and Leon Kratzer 14 points.

Greece vs. France, 67-59
France was the most consistent team in the tournament heading into this game and bested Greece in all important stats, not least in all attacking areas. However, with home support the Greek’s have displayed a never say die attitude, and mixed with talent it was too much for France as their form evaporated.

Greece made their move at the start of the second half, putting an 11-0 run on the board and soon extending to a 14 point lead. From there the hosts dug in and simply didn’t let France get back into the game, sealing an impressive win in the process.

Georgios Papagiannis led the home contingent with 21 points, while doubling up with 13 rebounds. There was a triple-double performance in the Greek ranks, with Vasileios Charalampopoulos getting 13 points and 11 assists and 10 rebounds in arguably the personal game of the competition so far.

Frank Ntilikina sat atop the scoring table with 17 points for Les Bleus, followed by Luc Loubaki with 13 points for the losing effort.

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