Before The Semis: Numbers Talk

02 August 2008

The semi-finals are set. Everyone has their own favourite. And all four teams remaining in the race for a medal hope to follow up last summer's champions Serbia as winners of the U18 European Championship Men. offers an in-depth statistical analysis for that extra insight of Saturday's semis.

*All four semi-finalists took top honours in their Preliminary Round groups. Greece is the only team still undefeated at the tournament while France, Lithuania and Croatia all have reached the final four despite two losses.

*Croatia are the highest scoring team in the tournament at 81 ppg and have two of the top five scorers (Mario Delas, 20.8 - second, and Toni Prostran, 17.8 - fifth). Greece are seventh as a team in scoring (74 ppg) with Kostas Sloukas as the top scorer at 15.2 points a game (10th overall). France have averaged 72 ppg as Alexis Tanghe leads the way (16.0) and Lithuania scored 71.3 ppg with Donatas Motiejunas the sixth best individual scorer at 17.0.

*Croatia is the best overall shooting team in the event at 49.3 percent and Vladimir Vanjak's men are tops from three-point range as well at 33 percent. France hit 45.7 percent overall for third best in the tournament; Lithuania's 45.2 is fifth-best and Greece are sixth best at 44.7. But George Vlassopoulos's team has made just 27 percent of their three-pointers - the fourth-worst overall. Individually, Slezas, Delas and Tanghe are all shooting better than 64 percent from the floor.

*When it comes to free throw shooting, Croatia are the best team at 73 percent - even though they missed four crucial foul shots against France. The French are 11th at 62 percent and Lithuania made 59.7 of their foul shots while Greece hit just 55 percent from the charity stripe - the second-worst percentage at the event. Individually, Lithuania point guard Augustas Peciukevicius is the third best at 86 percent (24 of 28) and Sloukas has made 81 percent at 26 of 32.

*In the paint, Lithuania lead all teams in rebounding at 43.3 per game while Greece are third with 41.8 and France and Croatia are tied for 13th with 35. Greece get a huge benefit with their proficiency on the offensive glass with 15.2 offensive rebounds per game - second-best in the tournament. Lithuania average 11.7 (12th) Croatia 11.3 (14th) and France are dead last in offensive rebounds with just 9.2 per game.

*Lithuania have the deadly inside combination of Tautvydas Slezas - leading rebounder of the tournament at 12.7 - and Motiejunas - fourth with 10.5. Greek center Zisis Sarikopoulos is fifth overall with 10.0 rpg while grabbing 4.0 offensive rebounds - second to Slezas's 4.7 offensive boards. Sarikopoulos also gets help down low from Leonidas Kaselakis, who averages 8.3 rpg while Delas is top rebounder for Croatia at 9.3. At the same time France's top rebounder is Tanghe with 6.5.

*All four semi-finalists are in the top six in team assists per game with Greece the only team handing out more assists than turnovers committed. The top assist player is France's Andrew Albicy at 5.5 per game while Prostran dishes out 4.7 assists a contest. But the Croatian point guard also commits 4.3 turnovers per game, leaving him well behind Sloukas in an important category - assist-turnover ratio, with the Greek playmaker holding an excellent 3-to-1 ratio. Led by Sloukas's steady hand, Greece committed the second-fewest turnovers of all teams in the tournament - 12.7 per game - while Lithuania lost 20.5 balls per game.

*On the defensive side of the ball, Lithuania are tops in opponent field percentage at 35.9 percent and just 23.6 percent from beyond the arc. The host Greeks have held opponents to a second-best 38.8 percent though they did allow them to hit 32.4 percent from long range - third worst. Opponents shoot 42.1 percent against the French and 45 percent against Croatia.

*Vitoldas Masalskis's Lithuanians were also tops in blocks, with Evaldas Kairys (2.8) and Motiejunas (2.0) leading the way while Sarikopoulos's 1.8 blocks is third most for the third-best shot-blocking team Greece (3.8). Despite having Delas and Tomislav Zubcic, Croatia have the second fewest blocks with 1.3.

*The biggest 'thieves' are France, who swipe 11.2 steals per game, led by number one Albicy at 3.8. Greece are fourth at 10.2 as Sloukas has the second most steals (3.2) and Pappas is fourth (2.7). Croatia and Lithuania are both in the lower third in steals.



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