15 - 23
July 2017
4 Darel Poirier (FRA)
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The X-Factors shaping the Semi-Finals

CRETE (FIBA U20 European Championship 2017) - The Semi-Finals boast a host of stars but games are set to be won or lost by some of the supporting players. Here are four of the x-factors to watch out for in the Semi-Finals.

Darel Poirier (France)

The electrifying Frenchman is an eye-catching player. Poirier plays above the rim and is one of the most exciting players in the tournament. Almost every game, he produces a highlight reel worthy of melting down social media.

However, Poirier's frenetic game can sometimes be out of control. He can play loose and struggle on the defensive end when not locked in. Thus far, Poirier has formed a versatile and immensely talented frontcourt along with Amine Noua and Elhadji-Digue Diawara helping fuel France's unbeaten record.

If Poirier can simultaneously dazzle and play consistently against Israel then France will be a step closer to a title triumph.

Netanel Artzi (Israel)

Much of the strategizing on Israel centers on stars Tamir Blatt and Yovel Zoosman meaning forward Netanel Artzi can sometimes be overlooked. The power forward has enjoyed a solid tournament averaging 13 points and 6 rebounds per game. In consecutive games against Ukraine and Italy, Artzi showed off his shooting touch with a hot 7-of-10 from beyond the arc.

However, he didn't make a three in the other three games indicative of his inconsistencies. Undersized at 6ft 5in (1.95m), Artzi will be pitted against France's athletic frontcourt and will need to be able hold his own if Israel are to win. 

Vasileos Christidis (Greece)

A gritty Greece rode their boisterous home crowd in a Quarter-Final comeback victory over Lithuania. However, they leaned heavily on stars Vasileios Charalampopoulos and Antonios Koniaris giving them the ball on nearly every opportunity. Fortunately, they were good enough to deliver the goods but Greece will need more contributors if they are to beat reigning champions Spain.

Vasileos Christidis is one such player Greece will be hoping steps up after scoring just 5 points in only 13 minutes against Lithuania. In such a pressure-cooker of a match, the raw 6ft 9in (2.05m) center may not be called on for much game time but looms as an intriguing option with his ability to make buckets.

He scored 24 points against Sweden in the Group Phase and averages 10.8 per game across the tournament - the third highest on the team. The 19-year-old could have a major impact on the result.

Marc Marti (Spain)

Spain is loaded with talent but power forward Marc Marti could be a pivotal figure in the heavyweight contest against Greece, where he is set to matchup with star Vasileios Charalampopoulos. Marti too is talented offensively, where he notably scored 20 points against Italy in the Group Phase, including shooting 3-of-3 from deep.

Amid a loud home crowd, Spain will have to rely on everyone stepping up and Marti will be expected to be a solid contributor on both ends of the floor. If he does his job, then Spain have good chances to quieten the home crowd.