Russia spoil Baltic derby, set Semi-Finals date with hosts Latvia
RIGA (FIBA U18 European Championship 2018) - Russia spoiled a much-anticipated Baltic derby as they beat Lithuania to reach the Semi-Finals of the FIBA U18 European Championship 2018 where they will take on tournament hosts Latvia. The other final four showdown will have four-time winners France facing reigning champions Serbia. All four Semi-Finalists also booked their tickets to the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 2019.
Russia shrugged off a slow start and held their ground against Lithuania in a 79-77 victory - thanks in large part to Nikita Mikhailovskii collecting a tournament-high 33 points to go with 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals. Pavel Zakharov added 13 points and 8 rebounds for the Russians, who are in the Semi-Finals for the first time since 2012.
"This is a big team effort. Everybody understands their role can be different from game to game," said Mikhailovskii, who added about the Semi-Finals date with Latvia: "Of course it will be uncomfortable because it's the home team and it will be a full arena for sure. But we are rebels and we don't care about it."
Lithuania, who were led by Erikas Venskus with 18 points and 10 rebounds, will move into the Classification 5-8 with the fifth-placed team also securing a spot in the U19 World Cup.
Latvia, for their part, took care of business in the second half in a 76-51 victory over Great Britain to reach the last four. The home side gave up just 21 points in the final 20 minutes in also booking their third berth in the U19 World Cup following 1999 and 2011.
Arturs Kurucs paced four Latvians in double figures with 19 points to go with 9 rebounds and 4 steals while Arturs Zagars had 12 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists, Valters Veveris added 12 points and Adrians Snipke had 10 points and 11 rebounds.
In the other half of the bracket, France needed overtime to get to the Semi-Finals in knocking off Montenegro 76-74. Mathis Dossou Yovo had 20 points and 13 rebounds while Yohan Choupas scored 17 points on 5 three-pointers and Karlton Dimanche nearly had a triple-double with 11 points, 11 rebounds and 9 steals.
France wasted a 12-point first-quarter lead and Montenegro - in the top eight for the first time in history - gave France a great fight. Dimanche had a chance to possibly win the game with 20 seconds left in regulation and the game tied 64-64. But he missed two free throws and the game went to an extra session.
Montenegro only had 8 players play in the game and two of them had fouled out before overtime. With France down by one point, Ayayi hit a three-pointer with 27 seconds left to decide the game.
France's partner in the Semi-Finals dance will be reigning champions Serbia, who out-lasted a red-hot outside-shooting Germany 92-86, pulling away with a 26-16 fourth quarter.
The big Serbian trio of Filip Petrusev (23 points and 10 rebounds), Marko Pecarski (20 points, 10 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks) and Zoran Paunovic (25 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists) were too much for Germany, who hit 54 percent from long range for the game and were 11-of-18 (61 percent) in the first three quarters from afar. Marco Hollersbacher hit 5 of Germany's 13 three-pointers in scoring 21 points and Jonas Mattisseck had 15 points and 5 assists.
In the Classification 9-16, Spain, Croatia, Turkey and Italy all secured their Division A fate for next summer with wins. Spain received 16 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds and 3 steals from Carlos Alocen in an 85-70 win over Greece; and Luka Samanic picked up 29 points, 10 rebounds and 4 blocks in Croatia's 85-62 victory against Ukraine. Mert Akay had 11 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists as Turkey beat Finland 74-56, and Italy needed double-overtime to knock off Bosnia and Herzegovina 98-96 thanks to 27 points from Federico Miaschi and 22 points and 13 rebounds from Mattia Palumbo.
France v Serbia
Latvia v Russia
Classification 5-8 matchups
Montenegro v Germany
Great Britain v Lithuania
Classification 9-12 matchups
Spain v Croatia
Turkey v Italy
Classification 13-16 matchups
Greece v Ukraine
Finland v Bosnia and Herzegovina