Israel continue title defense to reach Quarter-Finals, Croatia knock out Italy
PODGORICA (Montenegro) - Eight teams are still in the running to be crowned champions at the FIBA U20 European Championship after the Round of 16 stage took place on Wednesday.
Israel remain on course to defend their title that they won in 2019 as they swept their way into the Quarter-Finals by beating Slovenia 77-60. There was a game-high 15 points from Gilad Levy as Israel used a 22-9 second period as a platform for their success to move on.
Meanwhile, Spain kept their 100-percent record in the tournament in tact with a comfortable 83-60 success over Poland. Juan Nunez led the way with 13 points and 9 assists along with 5 rebounds and 4 steals in just 21 minutes of action as Spain dominated the middle periods to take control.
The next challengers to attempt to stop their charge towards a first title since 2016 will be Belgium after they produced an impressive performance to beat Greece in an 87-72 victory. Thijs De Ridder had another standout display with 19 points, 7 rebounds and 3 steals with three other players in double figures as they bookended their performance with big quarters.
Croatia knocked out higher seeded opposition as they led by as many as 28 points in their 88-72 win the reward being a showdown with the tournament hosts. Montenegro had to come from behind to edge out Czech Republic 80-78 with Zoran Vuceljic netting a crucial go-ahead three-pointer in the final minute.
Tomislav Buljan starred with 19 points and 12 rebounds for Croatia with Vito Kukic and Juraj Pleadin adding 15 and 12 points, respectively with a 32-point first quarter setting the tone.
France reignited their title charge after a loss on Monday as they fended off a fierce challengr from Portugal to prevail 54-41. Yuan Ouedraogo recored a double-double of 12 points and 12 rebounds as France held their opponents to just 14 points in the second half as the win sets up a clash with Lithuania after they overcame Germany 75-70.
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Earlier, Adem Bona posted another huge double-double with 18 points and 17 rebounds as well as 3 blocks to propel Turkey to a 72-56 win against Ukraine. An intriguing battle with two-time defending champions Israel is up next with a spot in the last four on the line.
Quarter-Finals pairings (Thursday, July 21):
France v Lithuania
Belgium v Spain
Croatia v Montenegro
Israel v Turkey
The battle to avoid relegation intensifies on Thursday as the Classification Games 9-16 also take place.