Behind the numbers: Chasing Sabonis, Blatt, Ilievski, Kosut...
TEL AVIV (Israel) - Basketball is a team sport, but it is sometimes hard to look away from the outstanding individual games. With the tournament in Israel about to tip off, we've got the numbers you need.
The oldest of the records date back to the very first edition of this event, back in 2000. The newest one was set just two summers ago, so we could be in for more record-breaking performances now after the quiet summer we had in 2018.
Points: Ilievski and M'Baye with 45
Vlado Ilievski is arguably the biggest name of MKD national team basketball, and his rise to fame came back in 2000. During the European Championship for Young Men as it was called back in the days, Ilievski exploded for 45 points in the 82-85 double overtime loss to Lithuania in Ohrid. Ilievski shot 12-of-25 from the field and 15-of-20 from the free throw line, playing 49 minutes.
llievski's record still stands, despite Jaka Klobucar getting close with 44 points for Slovenia in 2006, and Abdoulaye M'Baye tying it in 2008, when he finished with 45 points to lead France to a 96-78 win over Ukraine. M'Baye shot 14-of-21 from the field and 6-of-8 from the line in 38 minutes of work.
Nikola Mirotic is the only other player to climb above 40, dropping 41 points in a single game in 2011.
Rebounds: Sabonis with 28
It seems that Ukraine are on the wrong end of these numbers... In 2015, Domantas Sabonis proved that he is his father's son, pulling down 13.2 rebounds in 28.0 minutes per game. He saved his best for Ukraine, collecting a monster double-double of 18 points and 28 rebounds, 20 of those being defensive, and he also had 6 assists and 4 steals to his name.
Sabonis broke Furkan Aldemir's mark, set in 2011. In fact, Turkey's big man had back-to-back games of 20+ rebounds, against Germany and Russia. With 25 against Germany, he was the record holder for the next four summers.
Assists: Blatt with 16
There have been FIBA U20 European Championships in which nobody reached double figures for assists in a game. That was not a problem in 2017, when Tamir Blatt averaged 10.1 assists per game, setting the record of this event with 16 dimes against Italy.
He also had 14 against France, 13 against Lithuania and 10 against Latvia, completely dominating the leader board, and continuing the father-son tradition that was set in the rebounding department earlier in this story.
Steals: Barton and Paliashchuk with 8
Defense was much more emphasized at the turn of the century, which is why there are no surprises to see the steals records set back in 2000 and 2004. Lubos Barton of Czech Republic stole the ball 8 times against Slovenia in 2000, and Dzmitry Paliashchuk equaled that amount for Belarus against Lithuania in 2004.
But, it was Paliashchuk's teammate who set the all-time mark with 13 steals in a game! But we will not count Vladimir Veremeenko's performance among our records, because he had done it in a Qualifying Round game against Switzerland, and not during a Final Round of the FIBA U20 European Championship.
Blocks: Kosut with 11
Being 7ft 1in (2.16m) tall certainly helps. Turkey's Emircan Kosut already had averaged 2.2 blocks per game during the 2014 event, and in 2015 he gave Great Britain a warm welcome to the summit with 11 rejections in a game. He missed out on a triple-double by four points, finishing with 6 points and 12 rebounds in 33 minutes of work.