U18 European Championship semis set

U18 European ChampionshipAn exhilarating quarter-final stage saw four teams’ progress to the semi-final of the U18 European Championships, with hosts Turkey and unbeaten Croatia among them.

Turkey vs. Latvia, 78-53
Host nation Turkey swept into the semi-finals with an impressive showing against Latvia. The Turks built on a storming first half to hold off a slight Latvian charge and put together a 13-4 run in the third quarter. The hosts dominated the ball, collecting 11 points from turnovers and 16 from counter attacks, while Latvia managed 0 of the latter.

Turkey took early command of the game during a solid opening quarter from both teams, leading 20-16 after 10 minutes. In the second frame the home team pulled further ahead, but a late Latvian charge left the deficit reachable at halftime (39-30). That 13-4 run at the start of the third quarter all but ended Latvia’s hopes and meant the score was 59-45 after half hour. A comfortable fourth frame saw Turkey progress to the next round of the U18 European Championships.

Furkan Korkmaz led the Turks with 22 points, followed by Egemen Güven, who was back among the baskets with 17 points.

Croatia vs. Spain, 80-55
Croatia thumped Spain to continue its serene progress through the competition as the Croats remain unbeaten and have won seven on the bounce. In this kind of form the team will be tough to beat at the business end of the tournament and are now surely favourites to lift the title.

The Croatians opened the game in good touch, pouring in 24 points through the first quarter to lead 24-12 at the first break. Spain hit back in the second stanza and put together arguably their best passage of play in the tournament, holding Croatia to 8 points to make it 32-27 at halftime. At the start of the third the Spaniards continued their ascendancy to take a 33-36 lead and put Croatia on the ropes. However, the good work was quickly undone as the Croats led by Dragan Bender exploded with a 25-8 run through the third and fourth frames to win the game.

Bender secured 18 points and 11 rebounds for an impressive double-double display.

Croatia will now meet Turkey in the semi-final stage.

Serbia vs. Lithuania, 83-67
Serbia eased past Lithuania in their U18 European Championships Q/F game, only losing the third quarter on the way to victory. The Serbs had a solid foundation of points as Lithuania kept conceding turnover ball; 21 times in fact throughout the game. Serbia punished the sloppy handling by sinking 20 points worth of buckets. The team also looked formidable on the offensive glass, taking 21 off the board and nailing 21 second chance points during the game.

A pacey opening stanza saw Serbia take the early initiative and carve out a 20-15 lead as the buzzer for the first break sounded. The five point advantage was extended through the second frame as Serbia kept a level of consistency at both ends of the court and looked solid through either perimeter. With a 41-30 lead at the midway point things looked very comfortable for the winners of Group E. However, Lithuania hit a vein of form to win the third stanza 15-22 and make it a four point game with 10 minutes on the clock (56-52). Any hopes the Lithuanians had were quickly dashed by an 8-0 Serbian run at the start of the fourth, enough for the team to ease down the stretch.

Italy vs. Greece, 68-85
Greece bookended their game against Italy by winning the first and fourth quarter to seal a passage to the next round. The Greek’s saw five players score over 10 points, led by the 20 points, 13 rebounds, and 4 assists of Vasileios Charalampopoulos.

Greece managed to keep the Italians quiet during a quality opening from the team, restricting their opponents to 11 while scoring 20. Italy improved at the offensive end in the second quarter and began cutting into the lead, winning the frame and making the score read 33-39 as the buzzer sounded and the teams headed to the locker room. Italy needed a big few minutes somewhere in the game, but any sign the Italians could find it was quickly met by Greek resistance. Italy secured the third quarter with 20 points, but with Greece taking 19 they still held a 53-58 lead with the fourth to come. Greece ended Italy’s hopes in brutal fashion by winning the final quarter 15-27 en route to the semi-final, where they will meet Serbia.

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