England need overtime, Czech Republic and Russia hang on for wins
SOFIA (FIBA U16 European Championship Division B 2016) - Czech Republic are the sole team at 2-0 in Group D, and they have done it with nerves of steel in the opening two days of competition.
After they had beaten Bulgaria 84-82, the Czechs got a big triple by Lubos Kovar heading into the final minute of their match-up with Belgium. Kovar made it a three-point game, and Sacha De Vreught's free throws got Belgium within one point, at 53-52. Jiri Sicha responded from the same distance, giving Czech Republic a 55-52 lead ahead of Belgium's final possession.
De Vreught managed to get two long range shots off, but could not connect on either one, as the Czechs survived another thriller and climbed to 2-0 at the top of the group. Kovar led the way with 17 points, including 4-of-7 from beyond the arc, Sicha collected 13 points, and Vit Krejci was all over the court with 10 points, seven rebounds, six assists and five steals. Vrenz Bleijenbergh had 14 for Belgium.
The Belgians have fallen to 1-1, a record they share with Georgia, Iceland and Slovak Republic. Juraj Palenik came up big for Slovak Republic, lighting up the scoreboard with 30 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks in a 72-64 win over Iceland. Lasha Mikeladze was almost as good for Georgia, collecting 25 points and 15 rebounds in an 82-75 win over Bulgaria. The hosts are the only winless team in Group D.
In Group A, Russia held on for a 51-48 win against the Netherlands. Rienk Mast had a chance to extend the match for five more minutes, but his last-second three-point attempt was off target, as Russia climb to 2-0. The Russians share their lead with Belarus, who cruised to a 75-55 triumph against Luxembourg on Dzmitry Ryuny's 18 points and 17 rebounds. Portugal got their first win of the championship, defeating Denmark 61-38.
In Group B, Andras Dancsecs hit a two-pointer with four seconds left in regulation to force overtime against England. Hungary even went on to take a 61-58 lead with two minutes left in overtime, but Mate Okros took over, hitting back-to-back three-pointers to get England back in front. England held on for a 66-61 win, Okros was their top scorer with 15.
England joined Israel at 2-0. The Israeli team continued their dominance in Bulgaria, handing The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia an 80-58 defeat. Their opponents have fallen to 0-2, much like Scotland, who have lost the local derby against Ireland 76-59.
Ukraine and Slovenia are in control of Group C. Denys Klevzunyk had 17 points, eight rebounds and five steals for Ukraine in a 67-38 win over Austria. Slovenia got 15 points and 17 rebounds from Nik Dragan, and defeated Romania 74-65. Kosovo got on the board with a 66-53 win over Norway. Dardan Kapiti had 21 points, 15 rebounds and four steals, Andi Vrapcani also hit 21 points, while grabbing 10 rebounds.