The U22 European Championships have just wrapped up in Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy with Turkey being crowned two-time European champions.
After the opening ceremony the first game of the tournament saw hosts Italy take on Spain. The Spanish side comfortably took the 75-24 victory with Ignacio Ortega top scoring with 19 points. Although the victory seemed one-sided it was a good opportunity for the Italian side to develop their skills against a strong Spain team which featured a lot of senior players.
Day 2 kicked off with France versus Turkey. In this game France were perceived as the underdogs and they done their best to throw Turkey off their guard with Louis Hardouin hitting 25 points, however, it wasn’t enough to dethrone Turkey as they ended up winning by seven points 59-52 with Turkey’s Mucahit Gunaydin top scoring 31 points. Next, Israel beat Italy 64-44 after good team cohesion by the Israeli side. GB fought Spain in a back and forth battle with Ortega top scoring once again with 22 points as Lee Fryer (19pts), Peter Cusack (16pts) and Sam Mack (16pts) leading the charge for GB, Mack’s steals also played a key role in forcing the turnovers which resulted in GB picking up the 68-61 win. To close out the day Germany saw off Poland 79-32 as Poland couldn’t contend with Germany’s offensive flurry despite Krzysztof Kozaryna being top scorer with 23 points.
The pool stage play continued on Day 3 as Spain battled Israel. Ortega (26pts) and Enrique Lorenzo (21pts) proved to be dominant assets to their team as they helped Spain secure the 82-45 win. Germany fought Turkey in what was arguably the toughest pool stage game as the Germans used tough defence to keep Gunaydin’s shooting prowess at bay whilst Matthias Guntner top scored 17 points to help Germany come away with the five-point win 50-45. France beat Poland 57-38; however, it was another learning opportunity for the young Polish team to listen to the knowledge of veteran coaches Filipski and Luszynski. GB were victorious against Italy 72-28 after sharp shooting from Fryer and Lewis Edwards, both on 15 points.
Day 4 finished up the pool stages and saw three very dominant performances. Turkey defeated Poland 58-33 as they used this game to rest Enes Bulut and Gunaydin for the later games. France were no match for Germany as the Germans came out on top 76-39 with Guntner being on fire top scoring 30 points. GB fought Israel in the final game of the day, winning 69-37 with Amit Vigoda achieving a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Ben Leitch (13pts) and Jake Robinson (11pts) proved effective scorers for GB whilst Fryer helped himself to nine rebounds.
Day 5 would determine the placings for each team as well as semi-final action. Israel would narrowly beat Poland 60-53 to advance to the 5th/6th place playoff. The Israeli side used great ball movement to even out the scoring between players whereas most of Poland’s offence was through Kozaryna who had 31 points personal. France turned out to be Israel’s opponents as they comfortably defeated Italy 67-28 with a strong showing from Hardouin. In the first semi-final a lights out performance by Turkey ensured the advance to the final, beating GB 64-44 with Gunaydin on 24 points and Bulut on 18 points. In the second semi-final Germany took the last spot by beating Spain 62-46 with Nico Dreimuller on 20 points personal.
On the sixth and final day Italy were determined to leave Lignano with a win and so they did as they beat Poland 45-41 to claim 7th place with good offensive showings from Matteo Mordenti and Nicolo Arena. France secured 5th place after beating Israel 70-44 with another outstanding performance from Hardouin. The bronze medal match was contested between GB and Spain in a game that went down the wire with Ortega once again on fire with 18 points and 13 rebounds which is what helped Spain get the 52-49 win despite GB not giving up till the final buzzer as Jim Palmer was top scorer with 19 points. Next, we would find out who would be crowned U22 European Champions in another game that would be hotly contested between Germany and Turkey. The game went back and forth until the final buzzer but Gunaydin’s 32 points personal ensured Turkey would be crowned two-time European Champions after an electric 67-64 victory.
Jim Palmer (1.0, GB)
Nico Dreimüller (2.0, Germany)
Louis Hardouin (2.5, France)
Enes Bulut (4.0, Turkey)
Matthias Güntner (4.5, Germany)
Text: Dylan Cummings | Foto: Christian Kolb (www.kistenblick-murnau.de)