After a day off I went back to Mannheim yesterday in order to cover the teams in the US Sports Arena. And it was worth to, not only because of the big atmosphere but also because of the great showings by some of the youngsters.
The day started with the duel between Italy and one of the surprises of the tournament Canada. The North-American team, that has been led so far by the Sudanese born Mangisto Arop had a lot of trouble to come into the game behind the performances of 2m11 tall Jacopo Borra from Fortitudo Bologna. Arop had some trouble to start the game but it were his three three-pointers in the second half that brought Canada back in the game. But the work of Pasquale Paolisso in the paint who shot not less than 21 free-throws secured the game for the Italians. However, the win was not enough to qualify for the Top 8 and the Canadians can continue their trip in the next round.
The next game was a pity of a game between an unenergetic and unmotivated French team and an Israeli team that lacks of talent but comes up with their usual forces: fighting spirit and team defense. Here, it is really hard to point out the performance of some players but Ron Sabag led his team to this first win in the tournament. After their 1988 born generation, the French team really had a poor showing so far during the tournament which is clearly pointed out by their coach Philippe Ory who could not hide his disappointment after the game.
In a very contested game between two talented teams, Australia came up with its second win in the tournament and qualifies for the next round. Jorden Page led his team with good overview and the scoring was secured by Matthew Dellavedova who did the big plays in the final minutes. The Russian shooters went crazy during some stretches but their overall performance was not good enough to win against a more balanced Australian team. Grigoriy Andreev scored 20 but could only hit 4 out of his 12 attempts from behind the arc. In the paint, it was Vladimir Ivlev who was the man with his 13pts 9rebs and 2 blocks.
In the game of the evening, the US team faced the Greek U18 squad which was supported by hundreds of fans. In a great atmosphere, the team of coach Georgias Vassopoulos made a game deciding 19-2 run to start the third quarter and the US could only survive due to crazy three point shots by the PG Irving Walker. But the absolute man of the night was the guard from Panellinios Nikos Pappas who scored at will against the American defense. With the return of Kostas Sloukas to the team, Greece is so far the best team I saw during the tournament and the possibility of a Final between Greece and Turkey is big.