|Igor Bezpaliuk (Ukraine)|
by Dan Casey
Lithuania, medal-winners in the last four U16 European Championship Men tournaments, will battle to avoid relegation this year as Ukraine won 80-75 to advance.
A fantastic first quarter gave Ukraine a 17-point advantage as Stanislav Kudrya's three-pointer made the score 31-14. Kudrya scored 13 points in the first quarter.
Lithuania replied strongly, and Edvinas Seskus hit a three-pointer with 2:15 remaining in the first half to cut the lead to 8 points. Ricardas Verbickas hit a three-pointer late in the half, and the half-time score was 46-37.
Lithuania then started the second half on an 11-4 run to bring the lead back to 2 points on a shot by Gediminas Zalalis. But Ukraine were able to stay ahead, Anton Dziuba contributing six points in the quarter as it ended 63-60.
A dramatic final quarter saw tough defense from both teams, and Ernestas Serkevicius tied the score at 70-70 with 2:09 remaining.
But Kudrya's jump shot put Ukraine 75-70 ahead with 38 seconds remaining, and when Verbickas missed and Ukraine grabbed the rebound, Ukraine were able to seal a great victory from the free-throw line.
Ukraine shot 58% in the game to 41% from Lithuania. Kudrya led Ukraine with 18 points, while Vladlen Berezhnyy didn't miss a field goal in registering 13 points. Vadym Prokopenko's three blocked shots helped the defense also.
Seskus recorded a double-double for Lithuania with 23 points and 12 rebounds.
Ukraine will advance to the Qualifying Round, while Lithuania will reflect on their worst tournament finish since 2006.