Portugal leave it late against Kosovo; Bulgaria off to fine start in Sofia
SOFIA (FIBA U16 European Championship 2017, Division B) - Portugal showed some clutch play down the stretch against Kosovo to start the FIBA U16 European Championship 2017, Division B in Sofia with a win, headlining the opening day of action with some crunch-time drama.
The Portuguese closed out the tournament-opener in Group D with a 7-0 run to snatch a 65-64 victory over Kosovo, with Miguel Alves nailing the game-winner with 28 seconds remaining on the clock.
The forward finished the game with an effective 8-point game without missing a shot from the field, with his teammate Andre Cruz leading the scoring with 12 points. Kosovo's leading scorer Erhan Sholla couldn't change the outcome of the game, even with 29 points and 17 rebounds in his account.
Belgium got off to a quick start in Group A with an 85-48 victory over Romania with Haris Bratanovic amassing 23 points, 15 rebounds and 3 blocks and Aaron Verstraete chipping in with 19 points, 9 boards and a couple of steals.
The two other games in the group were also rather one-sided, with Iceland defeating Switzerland 80-60 and Greece taking care of Belarus 101-60 with Dimitrios Klonaras setting a game-high with 23 points on 11-of-16 shooting from the field, adding 6 steals.
The tournament hosts Bulgaria left Cyprus little hope with a 78-48 victory in Group B, with Mihail Moldov leading the way with 16 points. Tomislav Minkov added 14 points and 6 rebounds, while Andreas Himonas was the only Cypriot scorer in double digits with 10 points.
Earlier in the day, Poland registered an equally impressive 80-43 blowout against Denmark behind a 10-point and 15-rebound double-double by Szymon Zapala, while the Netherlands nipped Ukraine 55-48 to also start with a win.
Czech Republic triumphed over Slovak Republic in the local derby to get Group C action underway, coming out on top 59-53 in the low-scoring contest. Mikolas Houser had 13 points and 9 rebounds for the winners, while Samuel Horvath finished with 18 points for the Slovaks.
Meanwhile, Bosnia and Herzegovina manhandled Norway 91-58 with all 12 players getting on the scoreboard and the team winning the rebounding battle with a 58-40 margin. Hungary got off to a victorious start with a 58-51 victory over Ireland.