Strong-minded Cyprus down Kosovo for a place in the Semi-Finals
NICOSIA (FIBA U18 European Championship 2017, Division C) - Tournament hosts Cyprus topped Kosovo in the decisive Group A showdown for a place in the FIBA U18 European Championship 2017, Division C medal round, joining the already qualified Norway, Malta and Moldova.
With their backs against the wall, the Michalis Michael-coached Cypriots did what was necessary to stay in the hunt for the podium, defeating their rivals Kosovo 81-60 to clinch passage to the Semi-Finals as the second seed behind top-of-the-group Norway.
The hosts got up by double-digits already in the first half and the home crowd at Eleftheria Sports Arena did not let them take their eyes off the ball the rest of the way, with the gap growing after every quarter.
After beating Kosovo to the punch, Cyprus will play Malta in the Semi-Finals
Avgoustinos Sofroniou was the main man for Cyprus with 18 points, 16 rebounds and 4 steals to his name, but Polys Iliadis also played a major role with 19 points on 4-of-9 shooting from beyond the arc and 4 steals on the other end of the floor.
Dardan Kapiti and Dino Herc finished with 17 points apiece for Kosovo, who did not have an answer for their opponent's long-range shooting, as the hosts converted 45.5% of their attempts.
For a place in the Final, Cyprus will now face off against the Kurt Cassar-led Group B winners Malta, who took a 76-69 victory against the previously undefeated Moldova on the final day of the Group Phase to secure the top spot.
Malta finished first in Group B with a 3-0 record
The tournament’s efficiency leader Cassar dropped a casual 17-point, 20-rebound performance, Keith Dimech had 23 points and 8 rebounds, while Nicholas Formosa chipped in with 20 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals.
Victr Legosin was the main man on the other side of the court with 25 points, 18 rebounds and 4 assists for Moldova, who find themselves on the same side of the bracket as Group A winners Norway.
The on-fire Norwegians showed they mean business by registering their third double-digit victory in as many days, steamrolling Armenia 76-52 behind a solid 17-point and 9-rebound effort by Mikal Gjerde.
Coach Inge-Aleksander Kristiansen's squad is still undefeated in Cyprus
Johan Flaa was the only other player for Norway in double figures with 10 points, while Armenia's one-two punch of Georgi Podkolzin and Artyom Pechenjyan had 18 and 15 points, respectively.
San Marino will face off against fourth-placed Armenia from Group A on Saturday after a day off, while Gibraltar will try to get their first win at the FIBA U18 European Championship, Division C against third-placed Kosovo.