Group B: Russia, Turkey Advance, Lithuania Stun Greece

08.07.2007

Dimitrios Verginis (GRE)
Verginis' points 25 points were not enough for Greece
Russia had another day in the office with an 88-74 victory over Turkey on Sunday to finish perfect at 3-0 in Group B of the U20 European Championship Men, while Lithuania advanced against a tough Greece side 84-75.

The Lithuanians needed to win by three points or more to move into the Qualifying Round but needed a frantic fourth quarter comeback to get past the Greeks.

The game was tight through three quarters, Greece led 20-17 after one period, 35-32 at the break and 53-52 going into the final 10 minutes.
 
Manos Manousselis's team upped the advantage to 11 points - 63-52 - with a 10-0 spur to start the fourth.

Lithuania countered in three-point style with their next seven scoring possessions being either long-range bombs or three-point plays.

"We didn't really play very well through three quarters. But in the fourth you saw more Lithuania basketball and our shooters were on target," said Lithuania coach Linas Salkus.

Povilas Butkevicius, who had two of those three-point plays, added: "We're a great basketball nation. So we had to win this game. Nothing else would have been acceptable for us."

The Baltic nation pulled ahead 75-69 with 2:23 remaining. The Greeks twice cut the deficit to four points, including 79-75 with 45 seconds remaining. But Edvinas Ruzgas made four of six foul shots in the final 32 seconds to ice the game.

Butkevicius paced Lithuania with 16 points and 13 rebounds while Ernestas Ezerskis had 13 points and Vilmantas Dilys added 12.

Dimitrios Verginis did all he could to keep Greece in the game with a game-high 25 points while Dimitrios Katiakos had 15 points.

Greece finished bottom of their group and will face relegation to Division B in the Classification Round.

Lithuania joins Group B winners Russia and Turkey in the Qualifying Round Group E with Slovenia, Serbia and France from Group A.

Earlier on Sunday, Russia pulled away in the fourth quarter to knock off Turkey 88-74 - thanks to 22 points, four rebounds, seven assists and two steals from Alexey Shved.
Alexey Shved (Russia)
Alexey Shved led Russia to victory against Turkey

But coach Andrey Maltsev said the difference was his team's defence.

"We played really strong defensively today - even though we were a little bit tired from three games in three days and practice today at 8:20 a.m. So we didn't have a lot of time for tactics for the game," Maltsev said.

The first half of the game was a see-saw affair with Russia leading 21-20 after one period and Turkey up 44-43 at half-time.

Russia led 65-62 going into the fourth quarter, where Shved took over early, dishing out three assists in building a 75-66 lead with 4:44 to play.

Oguz Savas's three-point play cut the game to five points - 77-72 with 2:29 to go. But Russia finished on an 11-2 run to put the game out of question.

Pavel Sergeev added 13 points for Russia, Andrey Vorontsevich had 12 and Artur Uarzmanov chipped in 10 points.

Bora Pacun paced the Turks with 14 points while Savas, Caner Oner and Mehmet Yagmur all had 12 points and 17-year-old Birkan Batuk scored 11 points in 22 minutes.


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