Ukraine hand Hungary first loss to reach Division A, Montenegro also in the Final
SKOPJE (2016 FIBA U18 European Championship Division B) - Ukraine put on a perfect performance at the most important phase of the Championship to clinch promotion to Division A. Montenegro also advanced.
Hungary had been unbeaten in the whole tournament before the Semi-Finals, and seemed to be on the right track with a 43-33 lead at the half. But Ukraine found an answer and played their best defence of the tournament after the break to hold Hungary to just 15 points in 20 minutes.
A 27-12, the third quarter saw Ukraine take control of the game, and the final 18-3 stanza was more than enough for a 78-58 win, a place in the Final and promotion to Division A next season.
Illya Tyrtyshnyk led six Ukrainian players in double figures with 16 points and 5 assists. Dmytro Skapintsev finished with 15 points, 9 rebounds and 4 blocks, and Illia Niemtsu collected 13 points and 8 rebounds.
Mykhailo Horobchenko was the double-double hero with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Maksym Nykolenko connected on 5-of-7 shots from the field to finish with 11 points, and Mykhailo Yagodin ended with 10.
Gabor Rudner was the only player with 10 or more points for Hungary. Runder scored 16 points, but Hungary will need more offensive firepower against Slovak Republic in the Third-Place Game if they want to book promotion.
In the other Semi-Final, Montenegro scored 51 first half points and enjoyed a 12-point lead at the break. Slovak Republic put up a fight in the third quarter, but Montenegro celebrated an 87-72 win to set up a Final date with Ukraine.
Milos Popovic played another big game, hitting 7-of-14 shots from the field on his way to team-highs of 23 points and 9 rebounds. Milic Starovlah went 4-of-5 from long range to finish with 20 points, and Ognjen Carapic was once again all over the court with 17 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds.
Slovak Republic got 26 points from Mario Ihring. More of the same in the Third-Place match-up could be enough for a leap into elite company.
Classification Games saw a thriller between Bulgaria and Georgia in the fight for 9th spot. Yordan Minchev hit a buzzer-beating two-pointer to take the game to overtime, but Luka Bulashvili was the Georgian hero there. Bulashvili stayed calm from the line to give Georgia a 103-101 win. Bulashvili also won the highly entertaining match-up with Minchev, outscoring his rival 37-36.
Amazingly, neither Bulashvili nor Minchev were the top scorer of the day. Thorir Thorbjarnarson collected 39 points on a 11-of-20 shooting day to help Iceland grab a 94-84 win over the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in the Classification Games for 13th place.