Yesterday, the XIII Games of the Small European States in Cyprus began with the first competitions. This week-long event that is organized every two years can be compared to the Olympic Games but at a way smaller scale. Only European countries with fewer than 1 million inhabitants is allowed to participate. The event also features a basketball tournament which sees the following nations compete for the gold: Iceland, Malta, Andorra, San Marino, Luxembourg, and the hosts of Cyprus.
And it will be the hosts that are considered the favorites in this year’s edition of the games. Built around former European top player JoJo Garcia, the Cypriot team should be able to overcome their disappointment of two years ago, where they only earned the bronze medal.
Playing at their home arena Eleftheria Indoor Hall in Nicosia, they immediately faced a huge test against Luxembourg, another medal candidate, but ultimately overcame the team around former Tennessee Tech player Larrie Smith, 80-57.
The team from the Grand-Duchy presents one of the strongest teams in the recent years and features a multitude of current or former college basketball players. Team Cyprus will be led by the best scorer of their own league, Nelson Delgado, who helped the team to three wins over Albania (without Ermal Kuqo) in the preparation.
Finally, there is Iceland, also a potential tournament winner. Without their top star Jon Stefansson, who is still playing in the semifinals of the Italian League, the Nordics did not have much problem opening the tournament with a win over Malta behind the scoring efforts of veteran Pall Axel Vilbergsson, who scored 20 in the opener. Team Malta, meanwhile, had already struggled even before the opening game, as their bus driver did not find the way to correct gym for the pre-game practice.
You can follow the tournament through Live Stats on the official website of the Games.