|18 July 2012|
Spain, Latvia, Russia and Ukraine will battle it out in Group B of the U16 European Championship Division A. We break down the prospects of the four teams.
|Sergi Costa knows what it feels like to play in a U16 European Championship after logging 15 minutes per game for Spain in 2011|
Spain coach Diego Ocampo has Sergi Costa back from the side that competed one year ago but he's the only returning player. "We don't know how we will play as it's the first U16 European Championship for almost everyone. But we are very confident in the guys. I think we have gone from strength to strength in the preparation and despite the problems we arrived at a good time. Four of the players to watch out for are Marc Bauza, a 2.07m center who participated in the U17 World Championship in Kaunas earlier this summer and the trio of 1.94m forward Marc García, 2.00m forward Adnan Omeragic and 1.89m guard Francisco Alonso.
With the advantage of having the home folk watching their games, the Latvians should be tough opponents for everyone. Rinalds Malmanis was a big presence in the 70-57 friendly defeat to Israel in the preparations, scoring 10 points and corralling 12 rebounds. Ervins Meznieks and Rendijs Feikners each had 14 points and local hero Klavs Cavars a team-high eight rebounds in the 64-58 defeat to Lithuania on 8 July.
Russia have had mixed results in the build-up to the U16 European Championship Division A. Two players likely to have prominent roles are Ilya Karpenkov and Maxim Morozov. Karpenkov is a 2.00m center and Morozov a 2.00m power forward.
Ukraine, who are coached by Maksym Mikhelson, look as if they have a chance to be successful after winning three friendly games against Belarus and then claiming first place at an international tournament in France. In a four-team warm-up event in Serbia, they finished second - beating Group B rivals Russia along the way. Players to watch are 1.98m power forward Yevgen Balaban, 1.76m point guard Maksym Miroshnychenko and 1.80m playmaker Kyrylo Podkovyrov.