|Stanislav Kudrya and Ukraine hold their fate in their own hands despite a tough two point loss against the Slovaks|
No team was able to clinch a Semi-Final spot on the first of two days in the Qualifying Round for 1-8 place in the U16 European Championship Men, Division B in Tallinn, Estonia.
Instead, six teams are still in the hunt for the sought-after spots that promise promotion with only one more win.
In Group E, Czech Republic took the lead in the group and sit on a tidy 2-0 record following their 81-58 demolition of Switzerland. Martin Peterka led a balanced attack in which as many as eight players scored 6 or more points. The Swiss, who had their best scorer in Clint N'Dumba-Capela with 23 points, looked good early on as they went up 17-14 after 7:20 in the first quarter. But that woke the Czechs up and they went on a 8-0 run that bridged the first two quarters and they never looked back.
The other game in the group saw the Slovak Republic making some use of their last chance to stay in the race for the Quarter-Finals by beating Ukraine 69-67 behind a strong last quarter. Simon Krajcovic gave the Slovaks a lift as he scored 17 points alongside 9 rebounds. Ukraine entered the last quarter up by 3 and still led by the same amount after 5 minutes but saw their opponents going on a 9-4 finish that gave them the win in the end. Volodymyr Gerun turned out to be the tragic hero as he topped all scorers with 20 points but missed two free throws with 25 seconds to play that would have sent the game into overtime.
Tomorrow Ukraine have the chance to make the Semi-Finals, by simply beating Czech Republic. If Slovak Republic beat Switzerland in their game, the three team tie would be in favour of Ukraine and Czech Republic thanks to the high win of the Czechs against their neighbours in the Preliminary Round.
Group F displays a similar set-up as Georgia sit on a comfortable 2-0 on top while Slovenia and the Netherlands are both 1-1 after their encounter thanks to a 79-62 win by the Balkan side. Five players scored in double figures, led by Aleksej Nikolic with 20 points out of which 18 came from behind the arc as he drained 6/9 three pointers. Slovenia came out firing and opened a quick lead that extended to a 26-15 first quarter lead. In the fourth quarter it looked like the Dutch were finding a way back but Nikolic hurt their chances with three of his triples in the last 10 minutes. The Netherlands had their best scorer in Stefan Topalovic with 19 points.
In the other game of the Group Georgia hammered Hungary 83-56 to practically end the Hungarian's dreams of a Semi-Final appearance. Georgia saw their opponents going up 17-13 after 7 minutes of basketball but used the last three minutes of the quarter to go up themselves 24-19. The lead had already reached 17 points by half-time and Hungary could not threaten Georgia any more. Point guard Irakli Mikeladze had 15 points alongside 7 assists to lead Georgia while Hungary's best performer was Bertold Zahoran with 9 points and 8 rebounds.
In order to qualify for the semi-finals the Netherlands would have to beat Georgia by more than 10 points, which would then leave the Georgians as the odd man in a three-team tie, provided the Slovenians win their encounter with Hungary.
In the Classification Round for 9-16 place England edged Sweden 61-58 and Portugal beat Ireland 78-61 in Group G. That puts England and Portugal to 2-0 and gives them the chance to pursuit best-of-the-rest ninth place.
In Group H Finland and Luxembourg are the teams on the sunny side as Finland beat Belgium 68-61 and Luxembourg continued their good campaign with a 83-80 triumph over hosts Estonia.
Further down in the standings Austria and Romania showed their willingness to fnish on a positive note by winning their opening games in Classification Round 17-20 place with wins. Austria squeezed past Norway 55-53 and Romania shut down Belarus 79-64.