Semi-Finals Set In Strumica

4. Morayoninuoluwa Soluade (England)
Morayoninuoluwa Soluade and England beat Slovenia to set up a Semi-Final against Israel

Along with Bosnia and Herzegovnia, England advance to the semi-finals with their 100% record intact in the U16 European Championship Men Division B.

Bosnia and Herzegovina forced 27 turnovers and held Hungary to six second-quarter points in a dominant 81-61 win in Qualifying Round Group F.

Hungary took an 18-12 lead on Bence Ruják's lay-up with 14 seconds remaining in the first quarter. But Bosnia and Herzegovina came roaring back with a 22-2 run capped by Dejan Ivkovic's three-pointer, which gave the Bosnian team a 34-20 lead midway through the second period.

The lead was extended to 44-24 by half-time on Nedim Buza's steal and breakaway dunk. The Hungarian team were never able to mount a comeback, and Bosnia and Herzegovina cruised to their sixth win of the competition to set up a semi-final with Slovenia.

After the game, Bosnia and Herzegovina coach Damir Zeljkovic looked ahead to Saturday's Semi-Final: "We have won every game so far. Now we have only one more game to reach our target, going to the final and Division A. But it won't be easy, because we'll play against an excellent team. I'm sorry that only one team will reach the final and fulfil their dreams, and I hope that the best team wins."

In the other Group F game, Israel held on to secure a dramatic qualification to the Semi-Finals despite losing 76-72 to Armenia. Armenia, Israel and Hungary tied for second place with a 1-2 record in the Qualifying Round. Israel's narrow loss today, plus Hungary's large win over Armenia and Israel's large win over Hungary, ensured that the losing team had more to celebrate at the end of this game.

The game was tied at 60-60 entering the final quarter, and later Regev Zanzuri's lay-up gave Israel a 71-70 lead with 2:35 remaining. But Armenia secured two offensive rebounds and eventually Arkadiy Mkrtychyan converted, then Kirill Zakharchuk's lay-up gave Armenia a 74-71 lead. Vladimir Radivoevich clinched the game from the free-throw line.

Armenia had double-doubles from Andrey Konstantinov (14 points, 12 rebounds) and Mkrtychyan (12 points, 11 rebounds) in the victory. Sergey Polukhin added 12 points and 3 steals. Naor Sharon led Israel with 14 points and 7 rebounds, and Itay Segev had 12 points. Idan Zalmanson added 9 points and 12 rebounds.

With both teams already guaranteed Semi-Final berths, the game between England and Slovenia decided who would win Qualifying Round Group E. England held their opponents to 7 second-quarter points and survived some tense moments at the end to come away with a 63-58 victory.

England coach Simon Fisher proclaimed the win as their most important of the tournament so far: "It means that we go to the semis without any losses. It gives us great confidence ahead of the Semi-Final. We played very good defense again, we played with a lot of heart and energy."

Andraz Rogelija hit a three-pointer at the end of the first quarter to put Slovenia 16-10 ahead, but the English defense clamped down in the second period to take a 33-23 lead at half-time.

Slovenia then held England scoreless for 4:58 in the third period on a 15-0 run to tie the game. England quickly responded with a 7-0 run of their own, capped by Morayoninuoluwa Soluade's lay-up at the end of the third period.

Slovenia came back again and the score was 60-58 in England's favour with 2:19 remaining after Matic Rebec hit a three-pointer. Tyrell Isaacs connected from long-range, and England's defense sealed the victory.

Kingsley Okoroh dominated inside for England with 18 rebounds and 4 blocked shots as well as 8 points. England's balanced attack saw seven players score 7 points or more, led by Soluade and Dwayne Orija with 11 points. Luke Nelson added 10 points and 6 assists.

Rebec led Slovenia with 14 points and 4 steals. Luka Kokol had 13 points and 6 rebounds, and Aleksej Nikolic had 7 steals, 6 assists and 6 rebounds. Slovenia will play Bosnia and Herzegovina in Saturday's semi-final, and England will play Israel.

In the other Group E game, the Netherlands secured third place in the group with a crushing 93-59 win over Romania. The Netherlands led 41-30 at half-time and surged clear in a rampant third period, Daan Rosenmuller's lay-up putting them 70-46 ahead.

Bas Veenstra led the Dutch team with 26 points and Mike Hogervorst added a double-double (21 points, 13 rebounds). Mehmet Hortoglu top-scored for Romania with 16 points.

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