France and Bulgaria, two sides that will compete at the U18 European Championship in July, have prevailed in back-to-back warm-up games against Division B opposition, in Germany and F.Y.R. Of Macedonia respectively.
|Charly Pontens was one fot he French players to impress during warm up games|
The U18 French team shut down their German hosts to win 57-44 on Wednesday, one day after claiming a 75-70 win in overtime a day earlier.
Germany claimed a 13-11 early lead in Game 2 but had no response when 'les Bleus' turned their defensive intensity up a notch, only managing 17 points in the second and third quarters combined.
By the start of the final frame, France were already up 44-30 and secured the victory thanks to their capacity to protect the ball better than their hosts.
None of the two opponents had good shooting percentages from anywhere on the floor but France out-rebounded Germany 43-31, while the Germans turned the ball over 16 times.
Forward Damien Inglis paved the way for France with 13 points and five rebounds; Guerschon Yabusele and Charly Pontens added eight points each; while big man Petr Cornelie finished with seven points and a game-high 10 boards.
In Game 1, France had come back from 11 points down to tie the scores at 62 at the end of regulation and force overtime, thanks largely to a splendid double-double of 25 points and 10 rebounds by forward Axel Bouteille.
Yabusele had nine points and six rebounds for France, who saw all 12 players who took to the floor in that game writing their name on the scorers-sheet.
For Germany, Jan Wimberg had 13 points and eight rebounds while point guard Ismet Akpinar added 12 points in a losing effort. It is worth noting that Akpinar did not play in the second game the following day.
BULGARIA TOP F.Y.R. OF MACEDONIA
|Aleksandar Vezenkov is back for another round with the U18 Bulgarian team, showing in warm-up games that he will be a force to be reckoned with|
Winger Aleksandar Vezenkov, who already had a protagonist's role on the U18 national team for Bulgaria last year, showed this week that he will be one of the stars at the upcoming U18 European Championship.
Vezenkov came up with two excellent displays and Bulgaria topped their neighbours F.Y.R. Of Macedonia at home in consecutive friendlies this week.
In Game 1, Bulgaria started strong right from tip-off and took a 12-point lead after the first quarter, only for their guests to balance proceedings and almost tie the scores at half-time, 36-35.
But with Vezenkov shooting 8-for-13 from the floor en-route to a double-double of 24 points and 12 rebounds, the hosts pulled away after the interval and registered a 79-69 victory.
Simeon Lepichev was the other Bulgarian player to score in double digits and finished with 10 points and four boards, while point guard Andrej Magdevski had a game-high 25 points for F.Y.R. of Macedonia in defeat.
In Game 2, Bulgaria started in dominant fashion again but this time did not take their foot off the gas and were already holding a 17-point lead at half-time, a gap they maintained until the final buzzer to clinch a 77-60 victory.
Filip Kamenov and Vezenkov paved the way for the winners with 14 points apiece, with the latter also adding a team-high eight rebounds.
Bulgaria's win overshadowed another excellent display by Magdevski, who had a game-high 20 points as well as five rebounds and four assists in a losing effort.
France and Bulgaria compete at the U18 European Championship Division A which takes place in Latvia, from 18 to 28 July.
F.Y.R. Of Macedonia are the hosts of the Division B tournament and, along with Germany, will try to clinch a top-three finish and earn promotion to the top flight.