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August 2017
28/07/2017
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Wolter inspired by Luxembourg's FIBA EuroBasket 2017 qualifier win over Great Britain

LUXEMBOURG (FIBA U16 European Championship 2017, Division B) - September 17, 2016 might not have a major significance for many people. But it is a day that Luxembourg guard Sam Wolter remembers and will use as inspiration going into the FIBA U16 European Championship 2017, Division B.

Luxembourg were long eliminated from FIBA EuroBasket 2017 with an 0-5 record in the tournament's Qualifiers. But Tom Schumacher scored 20 points as Luxembourg beat Great Britain 82-75 - the country's first win in FIBA EuroBasket qualification since 2000 when Luxembourg beat Georgia in advance of the 2003 continental championship.

"Basketball in Luxembourg is improving and the level of competition gets higher. Our greatest achievement was the win against Great Britain last year with the men's national team," Wolter said.

Wolter actually has been part of a trio of victories for Luxembourg at the FIBA U16 European Championship, Division B over the last two summers. In 2015, Luxembourg knocked off Belarus and The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia en route to a 20th place finish. Last summer, Luxembourg knocked off Scotland for 23rd place. But Luxembourg were close to a number of more wins, registering losses by seven points or fewer against Switzerland, Hungary and Ireland in 2015 and Denmark, Ireland and Iceland last summer.

The 5ft 8in (1.73m) guard believes Luxembourg could upset a team or two in Sofia, where the country will take on Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Georgia, Great Britain, Kosovo and Portugal in Group D.

"I think our quickness is our strength," said Wolter, who averaged 5.0 points and 1.1 assists last summer after playing only 48 minutes over seven games in 2015. "We are not the tallest or most athletic team, but if we play good defense and run the floor, we might be able to surprise one or the other team and win some games."

One of the highlights for Wolter last summer was the opening game against Russia, who ended up winning the tournament.

"We were all very excited to play against them," the Luxembourg native said. "Unfortunately the second half they made a quick run and we never managed to come back. It was an amazing experience and I will never forget that. They were obviously a lot stronger and taller than us."

There will be plenty of players on this summer's Luxembourg team who experienced that game and the 2016 tournament - a total of five players were bottom level players born in 2001. One of those guys is Noe Melchior, who also will be playing his third FIBA U16 European Championship Division B.

"Noe is in my school class so I see him seven hours a day. We get on really well on and off the court. We have a lot of similarities and share the same passion for the game. He is like a brother," Wolter said of the Esch-Alzette native Melchior.

Wolter really appreciated his two summers with another Esch-Alzette native, Ben Kovac, who played three FIBA U16 European Championship Division B tournaments, including the last two with Wolter.

"Ben Kovac is a great teammate and he does everything to help the team win games. He is a great leader and I always enjoy playing with him. If he keeps working hard and with a little bit of luck he can become the best player Luxembourg has ever seen," Wolter said of Kovac, who will play the FIBA U18 European Championship Division B this summer. "The sky is the limit for him. What I like most about him is his competitive nature which pushes me to be the best I can be."

Wolter hopes he too can some day help Luxembourg to a historic victory like the one on September 17, 2016 against Great Britain.

FIBA