|19 July 2013|
|Vladyslav Koreniuk dominated Georgia in every aspect, picking up 26 points and pulling down an impressive 19 rebounds |
Ukraine and the Czech Republic will battle it out to stave off relegation at the Sportland U20 European Championship after comfortably defeating Georgia and hosts Estonia, respectively, on Friday.
Will the two winners of Friday's classification games will clash into a do-or-die encounter on Sunday to claim 17th place in the tournament and maintain their top-flight status, Georgia and the host nation have been relegated and will play in Division B next summer.
Georgia started off in fighting mood on Friday and claimed the early lead but Ukraine reacted after the opening minutes of the encounter with a 9-0 run that gave them a slim advantage at the end of the first quarter, 14-10.
They tightened the screws on defence and started pulling away in the second quarter to go ahead 33-20 at the half-time interval.
Not content with the 13-point lead, Ukraine came back from the locker rooms firing on all cylinders while forcing Georgia to score only nine points in the third quarter and the gap ballooned to 53-24 with 2:58 left to play in the period.
The Georgians kept fighting bravely well into the final frame but no amount of effort could reverse the situation and Ukraine cruised to a 75-47 win and will live to fight another day in Division A.
Center Vladyslav Koreniuk came up with a monster double-double effort of 26 points and 19 rebounds to ensure Ukraine were always in the driver's seat while Maksym Lutsenko also picked up a double-double, 13 points and 14 boards.
Spurred on by 700 local fans, Estonia assumed control of their clash with the Czech Republic early on
|Martin Kríz led the Czech charge with 24 points and 14 rebounds|
but enthusiasm could not make up for nervousness and poor shooting percentages.
With the start of the second quarter, the calm Czechs began to pass the ball around effectively to find the open man, hitting eight of their fist 12 three-point shots.
The Czechs also controlled the battle on the glass (they out-rebounded Estonia 48-30) and could always either get a basket in transition or finish close to the rim thanks to their dominance inside (48 points in the paint).
The Czechs methodically built a comfy 48-39 cushion at half-time but they didn't strike the master blow until midway through the third frame, when they used a 14-2 run to go ahead 74-50, with less than a minute remaining to the third buzzer.
Estonia owed a comeback attempt to their fans and they threw everything at their opponents in the final quarter, but it was too little too late as the Czechs cruised to a 94-68 triumph.
Martin Kríz was immense for the Czech Republic and finished with a double-double of 24 points and 14 rebounds, adding five assists; Karel Ausprunk went 4-for-5 from beyond the arc and collected 14 points, as well as three boards and three assists.