Tournament hosts Cyprus, Norway book a date in the Final
NICOSIA (FIBA U18 European Championship 2017, Division C) - Tournament hosts Cyprus and the only undefeated FIBA U18 European Championship 2017, Division C side Norway will revisit their Group A rivalry in the gold-medal duel on Sunday after both teams got past the Semi-Finals hurdle.
Cheered on by partisan home support, Cyprus came back from behind in the final minutes of the game to register a 67-64 upset against the previously unbeaten Group B winners Malta behind a prolific crunchtime performance by Yannis Achilleos.
The 16-year-old small forward went on a scoring spree in the final two minutes of the game, contributing 7 points to a late 8-0 run by the hosts to overturn a 64-59 deficit in the final stretch of the contest.
Yannis Achilleos came up with all the big baskets for Cyprus
Achilleos finished the game with 11 points and 8 rebounds, while Michalis Motitis led the team in scoring with 17 points, 3 boards and 3 steals.
Malta's giant Kurt Cassar turned in another monstrous performance of 36 points, 31 rebounds and 8 blocks, but his teammates failed to deliver the ball to him in the most crucial possessions of the game with a flurry of turnovers.
There was a lot less drama in the second Semi-Final of the day, with Norway blowing out Moldova 108-49, getting off to a flying 41-7 start in the opening quarter to decide the outcome of the game way before the final whistle.
Norway never looked back after starting the game with a 16-0 run
Mikal Gjerde needed just 25 minutes to collect 16 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals, while Tobias Rotegard and Christian Toefte added 12 points apiece in limited playing time as well.
Victor Legosin was a one-man show for Moldova, scoring 29 points on efficient 13-of-28 shooting from the field, as well as adding 10 rebounds, but no other player got into double digits.
With Cyprus and Norway headed to the Final on Sunday, the last remaining spot on the podium will be fought over by Malta and Moldova.
Having spun out of the medal race after the Group Phase, two Group A teams in Armenia and Kosovo will battle for 5th place after also kicking off the Classification Games with victories against their opponents from Group B.
Kosovo won the first game against Armenia 72-54 in Group A
Higher-seeded Kosovo showed little mercy against Gibraltar, registering a lop-sided 100-53 blowout behind phenomenal performances by Atik Koshi and Dardan Kapiti, who registered their best individual performances of the tournament.
Koshi had 30 points, 12 rebounds, 7 steals and 6 assists; Kapiti nearly triple-doubled with 20 points, 24 rebounds and 9 blocks for winners; while Alejandro Garcia scored 20 points and grabbed 7 rebounds for Gibraltar.
Meanwhile, the previously winless Armenia paid no regard to San Marino's status as the higher seed and celebrated a 63-53 triumph against the third-placed team in Group B after leading by double digits throughout the contest.
Armenia got their first win of the tournament
After losing the first three quarters by large margins, San Marino managed to restore some intrigue into the scoreline by taking a sizeable bite into the deficit with a 17-6 run to finish the game.
Georgi Podkolzin scored a game-high 19 points, grabbed 12 boards and dished out 5 assists in a winning performance. Avo David Danielyan, Andre Zohrabyan and Shant Arslanyan all entered the double-digit zone as well, while Pietro Ugolini and Giovanni Ugolini scored 15 and 10 points, respectively, for San Marino.