Czech Republic outlast the hosts, Israel first to reach triple digits
SOFIA (2016 FIBA U16 European Championship Division B) - Another tournament tipped off, with 24 teams in the hunt for the top three places and promotion to Division A. The hosts found themselves in the game of the day on Thursday.
Andrey Petkov hit a three-pointer with three minutes left to give Bulgaria a 74-73 edge against Czech Republic. However, Czech players responded in a furious way. Tomas Mikyska got them back in front on a three-point play, Lubos Kovar extended the lead to four, and Marek Vyroubal capped off the decisive 8-0 run with a big triple to make it 81-74.
Bulgaria however were not going down without a fight, as Petkov connected on a triple to bring the home team within two. But Marin Marinov's last gasp long range attempt was off target and Czech Republic were left to celebrate an 84-82 win to start the Championship.
Kovar led the winning team with 16 points, and Jiri Sicha finished with 15. Vit Krejci and Patrick Samoura combined for 20 points, while Vyroubal's clutch three was his only field goal in 25 minutes of play. Martin Stefanov had 17 for Bulgaria, whilst Petkov hit four triples on his way to 14 points.
Also in Group D, Belgium used a 23-13 final quarter to hold off Slovak Republic 61-45. Niels De Ridder went 7-of-7 from the field and gathered 14 points, Vrenz Bleijenbergh stayed scoreless, but amassed 18 rebounds and two blocks to keep the painted area under his control. Iceland have Sigvaldi Eggertsson to thank for their 79-72 triumph against Georgia. Eggertsson had 29 points and 11 rebounds.
In Group C, Andriy Grytsak and Denys Klevzunyk combined for 38 points in a 69-39 win for Ukraine over Norway. Gyrtsak was flirting with a triple-double as he stole the ball 11 times and had seven rebounds to his name as well. Romania's 20-4 second quarter pointed them to a 73-42 victory over Austria. Slovenia had no trouble with Kosovo, winning the game 70-47 to get off to a winning start.
In Group B, Israel set a tournament-high for points scored in a 116-33 win over Scotland. Six players were in double figures, led by Raziel Hayun's 20 in just 14:31 minutes on the court. England defeated Ireland 65-50, Jacob Round went all-round with 21 points, 8 rebounds and 7 steals. Hungary survived Kiril Panov's big game to beat the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia 63-57. Panov had six three-pointers and 27 points for the defeated team.
Group A saw the most impressive individual performance of Day 1. Ben Kovac finished with 37 points and 14 rebounds, but it was to no avail. Luxembourg could not beat Russia, Alexander Shashkov needed less than 20 minutes to put up 28 points and 10 rebounds in a 76-55 win. The Netherlands defeated Portugal 72-50 behind Keye Van Der Vuurts De Vries' 18 points. Belarus also had a win on Day 1, defeating Denmark 71-42, German Plotnikov picking up 18 points and 6 rebounds in 22 minutes of play for the winning side.