Headline news at the FIBA U20 European Championship Men semifinals was, of course, the crazy Italian comeback-then-upset of slick-looking Team Lithuania. On-scene reporter David Hein of heinnews provides his thoughts on the stunner of Rhodes in addition to the other youth basketball action going on down there.
(heinnews.com) – What a shocker! Italy came back from a 14-point deficit going into the fourth quarter to upset Lithuania 69-68 and reach the U20 European Championship semifinals. This has got to be up there on the list of crazy upsets in European hoops history.
This one came out of nowhere. Lithuania were primed to sail into the semifinals and battle France for a date in the final. The script appeared already written. The Baltic powers had a 14-point lead after three quarters.
But then they could not solve a determined Italian defense and the Azzurri mustered just enough offense to win on Roberto Rullo’s three-ball with 10 seconds left. And the shocker was closed off with Andrea Marusic’s tremendous block on Adas Juskevicius’s baseline jumper at the buzzer.
Lithuania could hardly even bring the ball up the court. And on more than one occasion, the Lithuanians looked clueless on offense – this is the same team which had dazzled defenses in Greece with their great passing. But the Italians definitely deserve all the respect in the world for their unbelievable effort.
Talking to one of the Spanish assistant coaches after Spain’s quarterfinal win, he said that center Pablo Aguilar is at only about 60 percent of his capacity here.
“If he was playing at 100 percent, he would be the MVP no doubt,” said the coach.
Seeing what he can already do – he scored all 10 points in Spain’s 10-0 run to start the fourth quarter – there is little doubt. Too bad for fans and observers in Greece that the fully fit Aguilar could not show up.
Regular readers of heinnews have read plenty about Montenegro big man Nikola Vucevic. Well, consider heinnews officially on the USC sophomore-to-be’s bandwagon. Despite playing against an amazingly athletic French frontline, Vucevic did all he could for Montenegro, collecting 20 points and 13 rebounds. He shot 8-of-10 inside while making just 1-of -5 from long range.
All the talk about Croatia is focused on wing Bojan Bogdanovic and power forward Mario Delas. Well, where is the love for center Miro Bilan?
Bilan is the third-leading scorer (13.6 ppg) for Darko Kunce’s team as well as its top rebounder (7.4 rpg). And it was his play in the paint down the stretch which gave Croatia the win over Turkey. And it was Bilan who kept the Croatians in the game down the stretch against Greece in the quarterfinals.
This big guy – and he is big at 2.09m with a solid, sturdy frame – can play, coming up with double-doubles in his last two games – exactly when it counted. Unfortunately he and his teammates came up against a tough, very good Greek team.
One more note. Forgot to put this one in the other day.
It was impossible to avoid. German guard Philipp Schwethelm walks into the dining room of the hotel where the team was staying. And it could not be overlooked that he was holding the hand of a young lady.
Some of Schwethelm’s German teammates standing in line for food did not miss it either and had to let out a minor laugh – as did heinnews.