It’s nearing the business end of the FIBA Europe U18 men’s championships and two teams stood out above all on Wednesday.
Serbia and Turkey were locked in a tight battle for most of their clash in Konya before the Serbs stepped up a gear in the second half to beat the hosts on a convincing 82-62 scoreline. That win secured top spot for Serbia in Group F, with Turkey having to settle for second. Spain and Greece booked their passages to the knockout stages with wins over Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro.
Croatia however remain the team to beat in these championships. Italy gave them a good test in the battle for top spot in Group E but, as has been the case throughout this tournament, they had to lean too much on the Mussidori. Federico Mussini and Diego Flaccadori accounted for 38 of Italy’s 65 points with no other Italian player breaking double digits. Croatia’s greater depth proved telling in the second half, as even on a quiet (by his standards) day for Dragan Bender they were able to score at will. Marco Arapovic had his third 20 point game of the tournament as Croatia eventually coasted to victory 81-65.
Lithuania secured their spot in the last eight with an 82-71 win over Poland while Latvia secured third spot in the group with a 63-59 win over France.
Here’s how the schedule for Friday’s quarter finals looks (all times CET):
Italy vs Greece (14.00)
Serbia vs Lithuania (16.15)
Croatia vs Spain (18.30)
Turkey vs Latvia (20.45)
Closer to BiE’s home, England remain winless in the tournament, after falling 67-64 to Belgium in the classification games.
Meanwhile in Sofia, the B Division tournament is reaching its closing stages. Ukraine, Germany, and Finland have all locked up spots in the semi-finals. Germany and Finland play today to decide who avoids Ukraine in the last four. This trio will be joined by the winner of today’s clash between Portugal and Sweden.
And finally, having recorded their first win in 7 years to kick off the tournament Ireland’s downhill slide since the opening game continued on Wednesday. They lost 65-58 to Romania. The result means the Irish will play in the bottom rung of classification games to round out their tournament.