16 - 24
July 2016
13 Okben ULUBAY (Turkey); 4 Kadir BAYRAM (Turkey); 11 Ege ARAR (Turkey); 15 Egemen GÜVEN (Turkey)
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Medal hopefuls Turkey and Lithuania headline Group A

HELSINKI (FIBA U20 European Championship 2016) – Turkey and Lithuania, two teams that are widely expected to enter the race for silverware at the FIBA U20 European Championship which tips off Saturday in Finland, will clash in Group A.

Germany, who look set to show big improvement this year will look to challenge the two favourites for top spot in the Group, while newly-promoted Hungary are out to surprise anyone who dares to underestimate them.

Turkey were proclaimed U20 European champions for the first time in history in 2014, followed up with a bronze medal success in the 2015 edition and if you are inclined to believe they are aiming to earn a spot on the podium for a third summer in a row, you are absolutely correct.

All five 1996-born players who were members of the 2015 bronze-winning side are returning this summer and forward/center Ege Arar appears to have made the biggest progress and is poised to play an important role next to star center Omer Faruk Yurtseven. Big man Egemen Guven, who was one of Turkey's best players at last summer's FIBA U19 World Championship 2015, completes a fearsome frontcourt line-up.

Meanwhile Tolga Gecim and Mert Cevik are ready to contribute fire-power from the wing and Turkey look set to be once again one of the highest-scoring teams at the FIBA U20 European Championship.

Lithuania have never stayed away from the podium of the FIBA U20 European Championship for longer than three editions, their gold medal conquest of 2012 their most recent success. 

In some other countries this would be nothing more than a minor historical tidbit but, when it comes to Lithuania, it fuels ever more their sense of obligation to compete for a medal.

Domantas Sabonis, who led the tournament in rebounds last year, is not going to play in Helsinki as he is preparing with the senior Lithuanian national team for Rio 2016, but fellow 1996-born big man Martynas Sajus and shooting guard Tautvydas Paliukenas appear set to play big roles on this summer's side.

Everything points of course to Martynas Varnas, a 1997-born swingman who earned a place on the All-Star Five of the FIBA U18 European Championship last summer, as the player who will be the focal point for Lithuania's offence.

Martynas Varnas is a firm candidate to top the scorers' table in Helsinki

Germany see three of the four 1996-born players who stepped out in last year's tournament, Joschka Ferner, Jonas Grof and Andreas Obst, returning this summer.

The latter, a shooting-guard who contributes in various aspects of the game, already had a very significant role on last year's team and is expected to replicate this function in Helsinki.

The German side however have every reason to aim higher than last year's 11th-place finish, as they are receiving an important boost this summer from a talented contingent of youngsters. The 1998-born up-and-coming star Kostja Mushidi headlines this group of new arrivals, which also includes the likes of Leon Kratzer and Jan Niklas Wimberg.

The core of Hungary's team that earned third-place at FIBA U20 European Championship Division B 2015 and promotion to the top flight were born in 1995 and consequently will not be in Helsinki to reap the benefits of their accomplishment.

Nonetheless, Hungary have at their disposal a number of willing substitutes, mainly coming through the ranks of last year's U18 national team, who finished fifth in Division B last summer.

That side's top-scorer, shooting guard Balint Mocsan, is expected to step up and be the main option on the Hungarian offence in Helsinki and is expected to get plenty of help from fellow 1997-born wingers Marcell Pongo, Attila Demeter and Kristof Horvath.