Serbia-Montenegro Match-Up Highlights Day Five

06 August 2008

Day five of the competition features a big time match-up between former countrymen and a battle of two great guards from Spain and France.

It's crunch time for teams hoping to book a spot in the semifinals at the U20 European Championship Men.

Game of the day: Montenegro - Serbia

There's very little doubt which game is worth the most attention today. The first game in Group F will feature a battle between former brothers. Up until two years ago we had "Serbia and Montenegro", and now it's two different countries. Two different teams here that lead the group and fight for a spot in the semis. Montenegro, led by Vladimir Dasic, who had a key role in the U18 Serbia & Montenegro team, stands on a perfect record so far, while Serbia dropped a game that could get them in trouble. This game isn't only between former brothers. It's a match up between two of the top teams here fighting for a spot in the semis.

Match-up of the day: Joaquin Colom (Spain) - Antoine Diot (France)

These two great guards will go head-to-head in a must-win game for both sides. Spain will most probably be out of the semis race in case of a loss, while a second loss in a row for France could make things much more complicated for them. Diot and Joaquin are the floor generals for their teams. Colom is one of the top passers here with 5.3 apg, while Diot showed great maturity and toughness that add on to his great set of skills. The winner of this private battle could make the difference for his team.

Player to follow: Gal Mekel (Israel)

The point guard who saved Israel from the 13-16 classifications is showing great versatility and talent in this tournament. The 192cm guard leads Israel not only in assists and steals but also in rebounds and up until yesterday, when his team-mate Anton Shoutvin exploded, he was also the top scorer. In the last two games Mekel came close to a triple-double and maybe the next game will be the one where he breaks that barrier. A point guard, who can play the two-guard as well, with very good ball-handling, passing and court vision skills that make his pick-and-rolls a very efficient tool.

Yesterday's line-up:

A little modification in the positions, with Vladimir Dasic pushed back to small forward and Dairis Bertans to the shooting guard, was made here to give kudos to all those who deserved it yesterday. Here's the fourth day top players.

Point Guard: Janis Strelnieks (Latvia)

Such a perfect game as Latvia displayed last night deserves two spots in our line-up and the first goes to the coach on the floor, who ran the team perfectly last night. His seven assists won't tell the whole story of how almost every possession for three quarters finished in the hands of the right Latvian player, and that had a lot to do with the job Strelnieks did yesterday.

Shooter Guard: Dairis Bertans (Latvia)

The stat sheet cheats when it says the great talent of Latvia scored 22 points in 22 minutes, before fouling out. Bertans reached that already after 19 minutes, and without the foul trouble it seemed like nothing could have stopped him. Five hits from long range with only two missed attempt, in addition to seven rebounds are the dry facts. On the floor Bertans is a great leader, with a hard nosed fighting spirit every player should have. Not many players can seem unstoppable and at the same time not to force their game, but Bertans managed to do just that.

Small Forward: Vladimir Dasic (Montenegro)

The big star of the competition so far is playing more on the power forward end, but his ability to play the three as well should make him feel comfortable in this spot for the day. In the win over Russia he finished with 21 points, 12 rebounds, six steals and a single block - all four were team high, but most of the above were reached already before half time when Montenegro decided the game. Before the big match against his former team-mates Dasic is showing nothing big great dominance. Everything seems to come easy for him, and he's making it feel like he's playing both tough yet with a peace of mind.

Power Forward: Anton Shoutvin (Israel)

The 204cm power forward who grew up in Maccabi Tel Aviv's junior department, exploded yesterday against Lithuania with a 32 points performance. Already after 15 minutes Shoutvin had 18 points, which kept his team strong in the game. So far in the competition he has never scored less than 14, and brings great stability and efficiency to the Israeli squad. With a good touch around the rim and ability to make things happen he shows what a big player he can become one day.

Center: Miroslav Raduljica (Serbia)

After a quiet performance against France the Serbs got big guy Raduljica back in shape with his second double-double of the competition. A 22 point and 13 rebounds performance on 80% shooting from the field and 14 out of 16 from the charity stripe tell the whole story. Spain put up a big fight and came close for a win but the dominance of the Serbian big guys, led by Raduljica, decided the game.

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