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Sink or swim - who will keep their head above water in Quarter-Finals?
BRATISLAVA (FIBA U18 European Championship 2017) - There could have hardly been a more exciting set of Quarter-Finals matchups for the Final Phase of the FIBA U18 European Championship 2017, with mouth-watering fixtures across the board for Friday.
Having won the FIBA U16 European Championship crown two years ago in Kaunas, Bosnia and Herzegovina will now be fighting for a Semi-Final spot against the Marko Pecarski-led Serbia, who moved to Bratislava after getting past all the necessary hurdles in Piestany.
The tournament's leading scorer Sani Campara has so far successfully filled the shoes of the team's missing star man Dzanan Musa, currently with the senior national team at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 European Pre-Qualifiers.
Averaging 22.0 points and 4.3 assists per game, Campara has played with almost no rest and has been the hands-down leader on coach Boris Dzidic's squad, while Stefan Adzic, Njegos Sikiras and Emir Cerkezovic have also been steady contributors.
Serbia will have a slightly bigger rotation to work with on Friday, but a lot of their success will depend on how well the duet of Marko Pecarski and Nikola Miskovic look on the floor. Pecarski has been as solid as a rock throughout the tournament, but Miskovic had his share of ups and downs.
The winner of the pair will take on either Lithuania or Italy, who both have made significant improvements to their play of late and are looking increasingly dangerous with the crucial stages of the tournament approaching after getting off to a rocky start in the Group Phase.
All-round playmaker and Lithuania's number one Arnas Velicka will be a handful for Italy's backcourt of Alessandro Pajola and Emanuele Trapani, but the Italians could have an advantage closer to the basket in Guglielmo Caruso, who will be a tough cover for anyone on Lithuania's roster.
In the Quarter-Finals on the other side of the bracket, the still-undefeated Turkey will go up against the Dimitrios Moraitis-led Greece, while France and Spain will reignite their long-age rivalry with what promises to be another classic contest in the making.
At the same time, all the other teams will be trying to ward off relegation over in Piestany, as they begin the classification games for places 9-16.