Norway through to the Semi-Finals; Moldova and Malta follow suit
NICOSIA (FIBA U18 European Championship 2017 Division C) - Norway continued their excellent performance at the FIBA U18 European Championship 2017 Division C by improving to a 2-0 record in Group A and booking a place in the Semi-Finals, while Moldova and Malta claimed tickets to the next round in Group B.
After registering a 33-point opening-day win over Armenia, tournament hosts Cyprus had their confidence shaken by the persistent Norwegians, who inscribed their second win in a row by beating the home team 69-54.
Having converted inside baskets with high efficiency themselves, Norway did just as much work on the defensive end to decide the game, keeping their Cypriot opponents to just 28.9% shooting from the field.
Only good vibes for Norway so far in Cyprus
Mikal Gjerde led the winners with 19 points and 15 rebounds, Nicolas Bieber added 11 points and 4 boards, while Avgoustinos Sofroniou was the top scorer for Cyprus with 12 points, 6 rebounds and 2 steals.
Earlier in the day, Armenia became the first team to be eliminated from Semi-Final contention in Group A after dropping to a 0-2 mark following a 72-54 defeat to Kosovo, who now await a decisive head-to-head clash with Cyprus on Thursday.
Gazzali Makasqi and Dino Herc, with 12 points apiece, were the go-to players for Kosovo, while Deniz Simnica and Dardan Kapiti chipped in with 10 each. Armenia's Georgi Podkolzin had 19 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals, but was held back by 8 turnovers.
Dardan Kapiti punished Armenia inside the paint with 10 points
Meanwhile, Victor Legosin’s talents were on full display in Group B once again, as Moldova topped San Marino 92-78 to move to a perfect 2-0 in the standings with the 6ft 7in (2.00m) 17-year-old forward dropping a double-double of 22 points and 13 rebounds.
His teammate Vadim Raducan also had a good day at the office, posting 14 points, 17 rebounds and 7 assists, as Moldova enjoyed a 68-37 advantage on the glass that ensured a largely stress-free contest.
Moldova breezed past San Marino with a 14-point win
Giovanni Ugolini had 21 points, 7 rebounds and 4 steals for San Marino, Pietro Ugolini scored 16 points and also came away with 4 steals, while Giacomo Pasolini was the only other player in double digits with 11 points.
Malta joined Moldova at the top of Group B with an 82-66 victory over Gibraltar in the final game of the day at the Eleftheria Sports Arena after a mesmerizing fourth-quarter run that guaranteed Semi-Final spots for Malta and fellow group leaders Moldova.
The game was still locked level at 56-all after three periods of play, but the Kurt Cassar-led Malta went into game-winning mode in the final frame and won the stretch 26-10 to sail home with a win.
Kurt Cassar, once again, operated with a size advantage
Cassar scored 31 points, grabbed 23 rebounds, dishing out 4 assists and swatted away 2 shots for the winners, Nicholas Formosa added 19 points, while Keith Dimech double-doubled with 12 points and 14 boards.
On the other end, Alejandro Garcia finished the game with 28 points, 12 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks, while Raael Aradas and Sergio Gil chipped in with 10 points apiece.