|12 July 2012|
U20 MEN DIVISION B
Hosts Bulgaria got off to a flying start at the U20 European Championship Division B in Sofia by beating Israel.
Pavlin Ivanov poured in 23 points as the Bulgarians won the Group A game, 78-69.
Austria, Great Britain, Belgium, Switzerland, Croatia, Poland and the Czech Republic also clinched victories on the opening day of the tournament.
The home fans came out to support the Bulgarians and were richly rewarded.
Georgi Boyanov was also influential for Bulgaria with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
The game was knotted at 60-60 when Dimitar Dimitrov hit a jumper and Ivanov then struck with a three-ball.
After an Israeli basket, Ivanov struck again with another three-pointer for a 68-63 advantage. Boyanov kept the pressure on with a lay-up for a 70-63 Bulgaria lead.
Israel got no closer than five points the rest of the way. They were led by Guy Lavie's 24 points.
Also in Group A, the Slovak Republic fell to Austria.
The Austrians trailed for much of the first quarter but finished strong and claimed a 22-15 lead.
They stayed in command the rest of the way, going in front by 15 points early in the fourth quarter before settling for a five-point triumph.
Jaroslav Moravek had 14 points, 12 rebounds and two steals in defeat.
In Group C, Devon Van Oostrum did the best thing to help get over the disappointment of not making Great Britain's Olympic squad, pouring in 26 points to help fire the country to a 76-64 triumph over Portugal.
Van Oostrum, who played at last year's EuroBasket with the Brits, also had nine assists.
Ali Fraser poured in 16 points and corralled 11 rebounds for the winners.
Miguel Cardoso scored 16 points for Portugal.
Croatia, relegated last year to Division B with Austria, scraped a 77-73 win against a determined Belarus.
Pavel Pronin's three-pointer trimmed the Croatia advantage to 74-72 with 38 seconds to play.
Belarus fouled Henrik Sirko and the Croatian forward sank both free-throws to stop the rally cold in its tracks.
Domagoj Vukovic had 17 points to top the scoring for Croatia.
Belgium looked very good in their 79-49 Group B victory over F.Y.R. of Macedonia.
Center Amaury Gorgemans poured in 17 points and came down with 10 rebounds for the Belgians.
Poland, among the sides thought to have a real chance of capturing the title, blew out the Netherlands, 97-39.
Tomasz Gielo and Mateusz Ponitka each had 14 points for the Poles, who grabbed a stranglehold on proceedings in the first quarter when they outscored the Dutch, 23-7.
Przemyslaw Karnowski, the MVP of last year's U18 All-Star Game in Kaunas, had eight points and seven rebounds for Poland.
In Group D, Brian Savoy had 23 points as Switzerland won 60-53 against Hungary.
The Swiss faced a 51-45 deficit with 5:42 remaining after a three-pointer from Balazs Kerpel-Fronius.
They appeared to be closing on victory but Savoy had other ideas.
He drilled a jump shot and then a three-pointer before sinking two free-throws for a 59-53 lead.
The Swiss added a free-throw. László Polyák had 14 points in defeat.
The Czech Republic beat Finland, 74-59.
Jaromír Bohacík had 25 points for the winners, who pulled away in the fourth quarter by outscoring the Finns, 22-13.
Villematti Kopio had 23 points in defeat.