12 - 20
August 2016
15 Joel Parra (ESP)
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Ambitious Spain headline Group A

RADOM (FIBA U16 European Championship 2016) – Spain, a nation that has conquered 15 medals at the FIBA U16 European Championship and aims to step on the podium also in the 2016 edition in Radom, as well as Latvia, Italy and Sweden are the four teams who make up the Group A field in the tournament that tips off Friday in the Polish city.

Spain have three gold medals in this competition, the latest dating back to 2013 in Ukraine. The following year in Riga hosts Latvia won silver, their first-ever medal success in this age group, while Spain came in third. Italy are the only other nation in this group to have U16 European gold in their trophy case, but the Azzurri's last medal success came as far back as 1991.

In last year's edition of the tournament in Lithuania, Spain reached the semi-finals but lost both their last games, Italy finished in 10th place while Latvia came in 11th. Sweden were competing in the Division B tournament but took third place and earned promotion to the top flight.

Spain faced Greece, Germany and France in a warm-up tournament in late July and won all three games. Not a single player on Spain's 2015 team is eligible to return this summer as they were all 1999-born, but that is not to say that 'La Roja' will lack international experience in Radom.

Forward Joel Parra and point guard Carlos Alocen, who have been included on Spain's final 12-man roster, took part at the FIBA U17 World Championship in Zaragoza earlier this summer and helped Spain take fourth place. Parra averaged 9.9 points and five rebounds while Alocen led the team in assists, with four per game.

Latvia on the other hand have five returning players from last year's team, in Adrians Snipke, Arturs Zagars, Anrijs Miska, Armands Berkis and Arturs Kurucs, who is expected to carry the biggest load on offence and is a firm candidate for tournament top scorer in Radom. The 2000-born Latvian guard averaged a team-high 12.6 points per game in last summer's edition, despite being a year younger than most players. In the build-up to the championship, Latvia defeated Russia and Estonia but lost to Lithuania by 20 points in their last run out.

Italy have two players back from last year's team, in backcourt duo Matteo Laganà and Nicolo Dellosto. Forward/center Omar Dieng, who belongs to Emporio Armani Milano, is expected to be the Azzurri's main option on offence. Italy played several friendlies throughout July, defeating France, Czech Republic and Poland whilst suffered narrow losses to Serbia, Croatia and Russia.

The 12 players who earned Sweden's promotion to Division A will not be around in Radom to reap the rewards for their effort, as they were all born in 1999 and are no longer eligible. Guards Erik Persson and Melwin Pantzar, both born in 2000, are expected to be the Scandinavian team's main arguments in their bid to maintain top-flight status. The Swedes looked good in pre-tournament friendlies as they enjoyed two comfy victories over the Czech Republic and eked out a one-point win over Estonia.