Lithuania opened this year’s Termosteps U16 European Championship Men in style with a 103-51 defeat of Ukraine at Ierapetra.
Mantas Kadzevicius led five players in double figures with 21 points – all of them in the first half – as Marius Linartas’ men jumped to a 25-8 lead at the end of the first quarter and never looked back.
|Giedrius Staniulis scored 12 points in just 11 minutes for Lithuania.|
Kadzevicius proved a vital offensive sparkplug as Lithuania took a 46-24 lead at the break but, even though he was substituted early in the second half, there was no drop off from his team-mates as Gilvydas Biruta, Osvaldas Matulionis and Ovidijus Varanauskas took over the scoring duties in his absence.
And Lithuania’s defense was at a premium throughout the entire game as they held Oleg Ruban’s men to only 26 per cent shooting on the day.
The Ukrainians rarely had good open looks at the basket and instead often had to take contested and bad shots which just didn’t fall.
By the end of the first period, Ruban’s side were already left with a monumental task as Lithuania used a 17-0 run in the first quarter to turn a 5-4 deficit into a 21-5 lead.
Ukraine had to play catch up the rest of the way and, despite several good spurts on offense, the gap was just too big and their inability to slow down their opponents was their main downfall.
Lithuania rested its starters for most of the second half, but the substitutes proved equally as good, continuing to play unselfishly and looking for the extra pass and the best shot on offense while maintaining their lockdown defense.
Dmytro Bandush led the way for Ukraine with a team high 15 points.
After the game, Lithuania’s head coach suggested the result was a good way to start the tournament but there is still a lot of room to improve for his team.
"We played great defense in the first two quarters and that allowed us to build a good lead but the offense is not how we want it to be," said Linartas.
As for Kadzevicius’ performance, he was happy with it, but not surprised.
"Mantas is a very good player. Today he was our best player. Maybe tomorrow he will be again or maybe it will be someone else’s turn. We don’t have one leader in this team so everyone can have a chance to lead the way."
Meanwhile, Turkey recovered from a slow start to put minnows Portugal away 79-38 in
|Can Mutaf helped the Turkish effort with 13 points.|
Genko Dilik had 15 points and Can M Mustaf chipped in with 13 to lead the way for the Turks.
Agusto Arauzo’s men, who are competing in only their second U16 European Championship Men in Division A, started well and even led 11-8 midway through the first quarter.
But it was only a matter of time before Turkey showed why they won this competition two years ago. The Portuguese were outscored 29-10 the rest of the first half as Mustafa Derin’s side took a 37-21 lead at the break.
Dilik and Mustaf accounted for 25 of those 37 first-half points as Turkey slowly but surely pulled away and built a double-digit lead in the second quarter, one which grew even bigger after half-time.
Portugal showed a lot of promise in the early stages with Joao Filipe Mesquita carrying the scoring load, but they faded late in the first period and never recovered.
They came out with a lot of energy, but the fact that they were quite undersized soon appeard obvious.
The Portuguese team has no player over 197cm while Turkey have no less than six and that discrepancy went a long way towards explaining why the champions of this event in 2005 won the rebounding battle by 51-27.
And, much like Lithuania in Group C’s first game, Turkey’s offense was a product of their solid defense.
They forced their opponents into turning the ball over 28 times which led to great fast-break opportunities.
Mesquita led the way for Portugal with eight points.
After the game, the team’s head coach conceded this was always going to be a tough way to start the competition.
‘Obviously it’s a tough result to lose by 40 points but we always knew it was going to be hard against a team like Turkey,’ said Arauzo.
And, after seeing Lithuania win comfortably against Ukraine earlier in the day, he believes the game against Oleg Ruban’s side on Sunday could be a good match-up for Portugal.
‘I think it could be interesting to see how we do in that game. We may match up well so a win is not out of the question.’