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August 2017
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Serbia vs Spain and Turkey vs France Quarter-Finals spark memories of past U16 Finals

PODGORICA (FIBA U16 European Championship 2017) - Winners of 12 of the last 13 titles will face off in the Quarter-Finals of the FIBA U16 European Championship 2017, including two matchups of teams that have battled twice in past Finals.

The only two Quarter-Finalists to have never won the U16 crown are hosts Montenegro, whose best finish is eighth place; and Latvia, who lost to France in the 2014 Final. Defending champions Spain have claimed four titles in the last 13 years while Croatia, France and Turkey all have two crowns over that stretch and Lithuania and Serbia have both hoisted the trophy once. The only past winner in the last 13 years not in the Quarter-Finals is Bosnia and Herzegovina, who are in Division B this summer.

Jaime Pradilla has been a star for Spain and will need another big game against Serbia.

Spain and Serbia will add another chapter of their U16 history against one another at the Sports Center Moraca as the two powerhouses have met in some big games in the previous decade. Serbia's one and only title came in 2007 with a 56-55 win over Spain in the Final while Spain won a thriller over Serbia 65-63 in the 2013 Final. Spain also beat Serbia in the 2009 Semi-Finals en route to the crown and in the 2014 Quarter-Finals while Serbia knocked off Spain at the same stage in 2012. All told, Spain have a 6-4 record including five wins in the last six encounters.

In Podgorica, Spain enter the game as the top scoring offense, number one in shooting and assists and second in rebounds. Spain have had eight different players score in double digits, and Serbia must find a way to stop Jaime Pradilla, Spain's leading scorer and rebounder. Serbia's number one weapon is Djordje Pazin, while Aleksandar Langovic has been playing great, including 18 points and 20 rebounds against Germany. And the Serbs do a good job handling the ball as they are third in assists with the fourth-fewest turnovers in the competition.

Bojan Tomasevic is one of four Montenegro players averaging in double figures. 

The winner between Serbia vs Spain will take on the victors between Lithuania vs Montenegro. The Lithuanians' only crown came in 2008 and the Baltic side has a 3-1 record all-time against Montenegro, including a win in the 2010 Quarter-Finals. Lithuania lead the competition in rebounds and offensive rebounds and are second in blocks but second-worst in free throw percentage. Montenegro are third-best in three-point percentage and are just behind Lithuania in blocks while also committing the fourth-fewest turnovers.

Lithuania have relied heavily upon the duo of Marek Blazevic, who is averaging a double-double (15.8 points and 11.8 rebounds) as well as 2.3 assists and 2.3 blocks, and Laurynas Vaistaras, who has 10.0 points and 6.8 rebounds a game. A big help would be if Modestas Kancleris and Lukas Kreismontas can find their shot, having combined for just 7-of-38 three-pointers (18 percent). Montenegro meanwhile are a four-headed monster with Jovan Kljajic, Bojan Tomasevic, Stefan Vlahovic and Viktor Vujisic combining for 70 percent of the team's points. The Blazevic vs Tomasevic matchup could decide this one.

Turkey's Mustafa Kurtuldum hopes to lead his team to victory in another big game against France.

Turkey and France have a long tradition against one another including plenty of big games - and a lot of them in general, as France lead the all-time head-to-head 13-11. Turkey beat France in the U16 Final in 2005 and 2012 and also knocked off the French in the Third-Place Game in 1999 and 2008. France, however, did overcome Turkey in the Semi-Finals of both of their U16 title-winning summers in 2004 and 2014.

Turkey are the second-best scoring team in the tournament and are tops in free throw percentage and fourth in assists. Don't expect a big game from outside as these are the two worst teams in three-point shooting in Podgorica. France are not elite in any category other than committing the third fewest turnovers. The key for France will be trying to slow down Mustafa Kurtuldum on offense though Ismail Karabilen can hurt you inside and Omer Kucuk showed his all-around talent in the Round of 16, coming up just a rebound shy of a triple-double. Killian Hayes is the number one guy for France and he too just missed a Round of 16 triple-double by a rebound. But he leads the team in scoring, rebounds, assists and steals. Timothe Crusol has been the team's second weapon while star Theo Maledon has struggled recently. France must also get something from center Essome Miyem.

Kristaps Kilps is a big reason why Latvia are in the Quarter-Finals and facing off against Croatia.

Croatia picked the perfect time for their first victory in beating previously undefeated Slovenia to reach the Quarter-Finals. Now, the three-time champions take on Latvia. Croatia have dominated the past matchups with an 11-2 record though they have not played any major knockout games.

Latvia enter the game as the third-best scoring team while Croatia are third-worst. Latvia have the third-worst shooting percentage but are second in three-point shooting. Croatia struggle on the offensive glass with the fourth-fewest offensive rebounds while Latvia are the fifth-best rebounding team. Other interesting stats have Latvia with the fourth-fewest assists while Croatia have the second-fewest steals and the second-most turnovers at 22.3 per game. But this is a knockout game between two teams few thought would be at this stage. Croatia are led by the one-two punch of Matej Rudan and Viktor Saric with Roko Gizdavic being the main guard. Latvia are more of a balanced team as four players average in double-digit scoring though Kristaps Kilps is the main man, averaging 14.8 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.0 steals and also hitting the buzzer-beater to force overtime in the Round of 16 win over Russia.

Slovenia won all three games in the Group Phase but after losing in the Round of 16 now must battle against relegation in the Classification 9-16.

There are also games in the Classification 9-16 - Slovenia vs Russia; Germany vs Estonia; Israel vs Sweden and Finland vs Italy - with the winners all securing a spot in Division A next summer. The four losers will move into the Classification 13-16 needing to win their final two games to avoid being one of the three teams relegated to Division B.

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