U16 European Championship underway in Lithuania

U16 European Championship
The 2015 U16 European Championship has tipped off in the Lithuanian city of Kaunas and Game 1 of the group stage provided plenty of insight into how the competition may play out. Reigning champions France look to have another solid team from their 2015 class, Les Bleus opened with a win. Turkey had an easy passage with a walkover win against an absent Russia, while Germany edged England in a battle of the old foes.

Hosts Lithuania defeated Spain in a morale boosting performance, while Greece picked up the most points of the round with a big win over Israel. Bosnia and Herzegovina sent a message with a cruising win over Serbia in Group C, with the other game seeing Italy edge Finland late in the game to claim a success. Down in Group D, Montenegro punished Latvia’s poor dribbling to execute a big win over last year’s runners-up.

Group A

Turkey vs. Russia, 20-0
Turkey walked over Russia as the Russian Federation and national team is banned from competing in any FIBA organized tournaments. Read the full story here.

Germany vs. England, 61-56
Germany opened its U16 European Championship with a win over England, but it was a close game throughout where the lead was traded 14 times. Indeed, the teams were still tight entering the final minute of play, with England leading 53-55. However, Germany connected from downtown courtesy of Nelson Weidemann to take a 56-55 lead and from there managed to close out the game, with England losing confidence as the seconds drained.

Group B

Spain vs. Lithuania, 61-66
Last year’s third placed nation Spain slipped to defeat against Lithuania in the opening game of the 2015 tournament. Spain was leading midway through the third quarter, but Lithuania hit a 10-0 run that spanned into the final act, and from there the team held out for victory. The tournament hosts were massive off the glass, pulling in 57 rebounds to Spain’s 41, and from that Lithuania picked up 16 second chance points while shoring up the defensive end.

Greece vs. Israel, 80-65
Greece got its campaign in Kaunas underway with a good win over Israel, as the U16 team looks to follow the Greek contingent that won the U18 tournament last week. It was close through halftime, with Israel leading 30-31, but Greece turned it on during a 26-18 third act that included a toss from Dimitrios Moraitis’ that found net from his own half to beat the 30 minutes buzzer. Greece was the team buzzing after that and eased down the stretch in the fourth period.

Group C

Serbia vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina, 56-76

Bosnia and Herzegovina swept Serbia aside in an impressive display to tip off Group C. The message sending victory was rarely in doubt, the Bosnians kept just ahead for most of the first half before 5 offensive rebounds got the team a bucket that handed an 8 point lead at the long break. A 14-0 run in the third period only put more daylight on the scoreboard and an impressive second half handed Bosnia the victory. The winners were dominant in the offensive paint, picking up 64 points in the area during the game.

Italy vs. Finland, 68-65
Italy edged Finland in the closest game of the first round, with the Azzurri having to dig deep to fend off a late Finnish rally. There was not a lot separating the teams during much of the game, but a 14-12 winning third act meant Italy led 46-42 with ten minutes to play. The scoring picked up in the fourth quarter, but Italy made all the running and shut Finland down for five minutes. Credit to the Finnish for finding another gear and making it close in the end, drawing as close as two points in the closing seconds.

Group D

France vs. Croatia, 66-61
Defending champions France got off to an ideal start with a victory over a threatening Croatia outfit. The French opened with a 10-0 run and it looked like it would be a long game for Croatia, especially as the champs opened a six point lead (44-38) through halftime. The Croats found momentum in the third quarter though and an 11-16 run made it a one point game at the last split, 55-54. Les Bleus found their champion spirit in the fourth to edge the win with a professional quarter of hoops that got the job done. While tight on paper, France actually only trailed once in the game, and Croatia’s lead in the second frame lasted just 33 seconds.

Latvia vs. Montenegro, 47-64
Latvia was runner-up last year, but the class of 2015 had a torrid opening to this competition as Montenegro put them to the sword. The Latvians picked up the lowest score of the round and collecting more points will surely be a priority in coming games. As for Montenegro, the newly promoted team looked solid in a close first half before using an 11-0 run in the third to make the difference. Latvia suffered 21 turnovers, a key point in the game as Montenegro punished the sloppy handling with 15 points from those turnovers.

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