FIBA U16 Euros gather pace: day 3

FIBA U16 EurosDay 3 of the FIBA U16 Euros tournament threw up a few key clashes among the four groups as the nations jostled for position with one eye turning to the next round.

Group A
Serbia won the top of the group clash against Turkey with a 63-67 score line. It was the toughest game for both nations so far in the FIBA U16 Euros, but the Serbs emerged victorious to top Group A with a 3-0 record and progress to the next round, while Turkey retains second place at 2-1 and also moves on in the competition. Serbia’s victory was built on a strong foundation, with the team outpacing the Turks to a 9-18 lead. A 19-23 second quarter proved enough to help Serbia to the win despite Turkey winning the third 15-10 and the fourth 20-16.

The decider game between Lithuania and Finland saw the Finnish contingent lose their third consecutive game to prop up the group at 0-3. Lithuania claimed its first win with a cruising 56-83 victory to head to Round 2. This was a game in which they came from a losing first quarter (19-13) to dominate in the second with an 11-29 streak. Tadas Sedekerskis led with 26 points and 11 rebounds as the Baltic side went 15-19 in the third and 13-22 in the fourth.

Group B
At the end of the clash between Greece and Croatia, one of the nations would crash out of the tournament while the other would reach the next round in third place. Croatia came through a close encounter to win 51-56 in a low scoring game. A tense first stanza saw the Greeks lead by four points (12-8) but the Croats reversed the deficit and added one point to lead 29-30 at the long break. A tight and cagey second half saw Croatia score 26 points, while Greece fell apart in offence and only managed 22 points.

Bosnia and Herzegovina met FIBA U16 Euros hosts Latvia in a game that would decide which nation would top Group B. The home favourites emerged victorious with a 55-63 win, taking the first quarter 12-13 and the second frame 16-19. Latvia built on that with a 12-17 third stanza that gave the home team a 40-49 lead with 10 minutes to play. Bosnia snatched the fourth, but failed to match Latvia’s final score.

Group C
Denmark has been on the receiving end of two thrashings in this tournament so far, so the country was probably happy to lose by a respectable margin in Game 3, falling to Poland 58-68. It was miraculous that the Danes could have still qualified before this game, but the Polish ensured it was them who would take third in the group to progress to Round 2. Mateusz Szczypinski paced Poland with 20 points and 8 pick-ups.

A European derby of sorts saw France and Germany go toe to toe to decide which country would take first place in Group C. It was the French who ultimately prevailed with a 59-70 win over their old foes. The Germans got off to the better start though as they won the first quarter 25-22, but Les Bleus exploded through a fantastic second frame to pour in 24 points and hold their opponents to 10. The board read 35-46 at halftime and although Germany cut the gap by two points in the third, France reversed that in the final act to win the game and the group.

Group D
Italy looked good once again as they defeated defending FIBA U16 Euros champions Spain with a convincing 71-53 win to top Group D with a 3-0 record. The message was firmly sent by the Italians and on this form they will go deep into the competition, while Spain lives to fight another day in second place (1-2 losing record). Italy comfortably won three quarters and the box score (22-15, 14-15, 17-13, 18-10) tells its own story as Davide Moretti led the Azzurri with 17 points.

The Ukraine overcame Russia 68-61 in Game 3 to make Group D the most interesting in the competition. After the win, three teams from the table stood on a 1-2 losing record (Spain, Ukraine, and Russia) but it was Russia and Spain who progressed. Ihor Dubonenko scored 18 points through the game as the Ukraine snatched a 36-26 lead at halftime (19-15, 17-11) and then eased through the second half despite a resurgent effort from Russia.

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