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Greece triumph over Netherlands in title clash; Andronikashvili brings Georgia bronze and promotion
SOFIA (FIBA U16 European Championship 2017, Division B) - Greece crowned their unbeaten run in the FIBA U16 European Championship 2017, Division B by defeating the Netherlands in the gold-medal duel, while Georgia rounded out the podium and claimed the last promotion ticket after a thriller against Great Britain.
In spite of struggling to create separation in the first half, Greece celebrated a convincing 74-60 victory against the Dutch opposition after taking care of business in the third quarter.
The Nikolaos Rogkavopoulos-led Greeks outscored the Netherlands 14-3 in the period and built a double-digit cushion to make for smooth cruising in the final frame.
Rogkavopoulos led all scorers with 21 points and 7 rebounds, Aristotelis Sotiriou collected 15 points, while Rienk Mast scored a team-high 16 points and 6 rebounds for the Dutch side.
There were more twists and turns in the bronze-medal game, with Georgia booking a place in Division A with a 64-63 victory decided by a coast-to-coast lay-up right at the end of regulation by Rati Andronikashvili.
After getting off to a horrific start and falling behind 20-4 in the opening quarter of play, Georgia trailed by as many as 19 points in the first half, but managed to turn the tables around after intermission with a 27-5 third quarter to lead into the final frame, up 52-45.
However, the rollercoaster was far from over with Great Britain recapturing control of the game in the fourth period and looked set to claim third place, leading 62-56 with 21 seconds left but Bidzina Peikrishvili and Andronikashvili managed to pull off a miraculous escape.
Peikrishvili had a perfect game from the field with 21 points by making all of his attempts, including five triples; Andronikashvili collected 19 points and 7 assists; while Mate Okros finished with 25 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals but missed two crucial free-throws that presented Georgia a lifeline, which they gladly took.
Further down the standings, Ukraine claimed 5th place with a 76-71 victory over Belgium, Hungary lined up next after defeating Czech Republic 63-60 in a rematch of their Group C duel earlier in the tournament, while Belarus wrapped up 9th place by getting an 82-73 win over their neighbors from Poland.
Meanwhile, Ireland finished the tournament on a high note with an 83-79 victory over Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland got the better of the hosts Bulgaria 71-64 in the Classification Game for 13th place and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia downed Portugal 56-50 to lock up the 15th spot.
Switzerland inscribed a 98-74 victory over Denmark in the Classification Game for 17th place, Kosovo topped Luxembourg 72-53 for 19th place in the standings, Romania notched up a 72-53 triumph over Cyprus, while Slovak Republic avoided last place by scoring a 72-65 victory over Norway.