|Rasmus Larsen did his best to make things happen for Denmark but saw little help as his team got relegated to Division B in their first Division A appearance|
by Yarone Arbel
Denmark is saying goodbye to Division A after just one year and return to the lower division following the results of Day 4 in the Classification Round of the U16 European Championship played at Osnovna Skola Jugoslavija in Bar, Montenegro on Friday afternoon.
The Danish fought for their lives but lost 49-47 to Latvia in the last second and dropped to 0-4 while Latvia jumped to 3-1 and with two games in the box to play, the gaps are too big to close.
In the opening game of the day Israel recovered and took revenge against Germany with an 11 point win, 60-49 following an 11-0 run in the last three minutes, to take a 2-2 record and still be very much alive in their chances to escape the relegation, while Germany lost for the first time and dropped to 3-1 yet will try to avoid a tie with Israel after winning the first game between the two by just three points.
Tomorrow Israel will face Denmark while Germany will fight Latvia, yet no matter the results the team to join Denmark will be decided only in the final day on Sunday.
Edgars Stelmahers was the top scorer of Latvia with 17 points and no other player reached double-digits for the Latvians.
Rasmus Larsen was once again the go to guy of Denmark with 16 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks.
The first quarter made it look like Denmark is about to suffer another uncomfortable loss as Stelmahers drilled a three pointer to make it 23-11 after 10 minutes.
David Knudsen scored seven in a row for the Danish squad deep in the second to make it 27-20, but Stelmahers once again scored from long distance and with the buzzer added another to set the half time score on 33-20.
Both teams combined only 15 points in the third quarter in which Denmark cut the margin a bit, but with 2:24 to play Latvia still held a 47-40 lead.
Denmark shocked their opponents and started to move closer until Larsen tied the score at 47-47 in the closing seconds.
Latvia called for a time out and sent in Sandis Ceplitis, who scored just a single bucket until that point, but added another big shot with the buzzer to save Latvia from an upset, and send Denmark back to Division B.
Germany arrived to their game against Israel knowing that a win will secure their spot in Division A, while Israel needed to bounce back from a bad performnace versus Latvia the presvious game, and return to the race with a win.
The Israeli side led for most of the second half, but saw Germany tie the game in the last minutes, before an 11-0 run saved the day for Israel and even gave them the tie-breaker advantage in case they'll share the same record as Germany at the end of the round.
Rafael Menco scored 14 points, Egor Koulechov had 13 with 10 rebounds and five steals while Adar Ben Aliza contributed 10.
Dominic Lockhart excelled for Germany with 11 points and 13 rebounds, and was the only player on his side to reach double-digits.
Germany took an 11-17 lead early in the second quarter, but Israel answered with a 9-0 run in which four players scored to enter the half time break with a 28-25 lead.
The Israeli squad jumped to a six point gap early in the second half, and remained on top even when Germany shook up from the break.
Maurice Marin scored from the arc to write a 49-49 tie with 3:10 to go and Israel's lead was vanished for the first time in the second half, and Germany also had the ball to take the lead, but missed their chance and Israel had an answer ready.
Ben Aliza scored from the arc, Koulechov added another one as the Germans ran out of answers until the final buzzer behind an 11-0 decisive run.