We are on to the final four at the U20 European Championship after Friday completed the Quarterfinal picture. Spain and Serbia continued to dominate proceedings as both swept into the semi-finals and will avoid each other in the next round. Also set to compete for a place in the final are France and Turkey, after those nations also made it through the round.
France vs. Czech Republic, 80-58
France cruised into the last four with a big win over the Czech Republic, a victory that marked France’s best attacking display of the U20 European Championship so far. The Czech Republic kept pace at the start of the game and midway through the second quarter the scoreboard was locked 28-28. From there Les Bleus kicked into action and put together an 11-0 run that made it a double digit game through halftime (41-31). In the second half France stayed cool and never let the lead fall into single points throughout the remainder of the game.
Yabusele Guerschon topped the victory with 13 points. Petr Cornelie stood out with 11 point and doubled up with 10 rebounds. Ibrahima Sidibe also plundered 11 points in the win, while Arthur Rozenfeld contributed 10 points, 4 rebounds, and 6 assists.
Martin Peterka led the Czech’s with 11 points, followed by Adam Pechacek and Dragoun Rostislav with 10 points apiece.
Spain vs. Belgium, 67-55
Spain stayed unbeaten in the U20 European Championship this year with success over Belgium and once again the Spanish are on course for the final (they were runner up last year). The game was very tight throughout the first half and was a bucket for bucket affair for stretches in the first and second quarters. The Spanish strengthened their defensive position in the third period as the score was locked 38-all and proceeded to carve open the Belgians. With a rock solid defensive display Spain eased to victory down the stretch. After losing 25-18 on rebounds in the first half, Spain got tougher off the glass and out-rebounded Belgium 18-8 to set a base for victory.
Juancho Hernangomez was the difference at times and he finished with an impressive double-double of 17 points and 15 rebounds, with 11 of those boards falling at the defensive end. Marc Garcia hit 14 points in the win and Ilimane Diop offered his own double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Vincent Kesteloot paced Belgium in the first half and finished with 17 points, while Manu Lecomte hit the nets for 16 points.
Turkey vs. Latvia, 72-58
Turkey bounced back from defeat to Spain in the final game of the group stage with a solid win over Latvia. It could have been so much easier for the defending U20 European Champion though as they held a 13 points lead through the long break. Latvia started employing a 2-3 zone defence in the third act and it hurt the Turks, cutting passing in the paint, where Turkey only scored 2 points all frame. In the fourth quarter the champs changed it up as Latvia loomed, feeding Emircan Koust, who propelled Turkey to victory.
Metecan Birsen hit 17 points for the winning effort and also added 6 rebounds to his game. Koust finished with 14 points and 8 boards, many coming in a game changing fourth stanza, while Kartal Ozmizrak supplied 15 points.
Kristaps Gluditis was the joint best scorer in the game with 17 points, followed by Ivars Rihards Zvigurs with 15 points for Latvia. However, it was Rolands Smits who stood out again as he recorded another double-double, this time matching 12 points with 11 rebounds.
Serbia vs. Lithuania, 82-69
Serbia is the winningest nation in the history of this competition with four titles, but has not competed a final since winning the 2008 tournament. There is however a feeling that Serbia is once again on course for the title and will be a five time holder of the championship by the end of the weekend. The Serbs joined Spain as the only remaining unbeaten teams this summer, but have gone about things in the most style… Serbia has looked serene whereas Spain has laboured at times. Lithuania’s fight lasted until midway through the first quarter when Serbia locked at the back and hit a 15-0 run that spanned Q1 and Q2. From there it was a formality.