The first of the men’s quarter-finals in the 2021 European Championships saw hosts Spain take on Italy in the Centro Deportivo Municipal Marques de Samaranch. There was little in it in the first quarter with Spain holding a two-point advantage, 17-15, as Italy got in early foul trouble. The second quarter though went to the Italians, 15-6, to give them a seven-point lead at the end of the half. The defensive pressure from Italy continued in the third as they won it 14-6 with Spain struggling to convert their scoring opportunities. With Spain now fifteen points adrift, it needed a big momentum switch for them to get back in the game, but shooting at only 31% it wasn’t to be and Italy secured the upset of the day, 62-45, to secure their spot not only in the semi-finals for the first time since 2009, but also guaranteed themselves a place at the 2022 World Championships next year. Giulio Maria Papi hit 28 points and 14 rebounds for Italy, with David Mouriz top-scoring for Spain with 11 points.
In the second quarter-final, the French underdogs started well against World Champions Great Britain going up by three early on in a physical opening to the game. GB settled into their rhythm though to lead 16-14 as Christophe Carlier picked up 3 first-quarter fouls for France. The pace and intensity did not slow in the second, but a number of turnovers towards the end of the quarter allowed Great Britain to capitalise and move ahead, 32-23. Despite France’s best efforts to stick with GB, the depth on the bench for the British team ensured they continued to add to their advantage in the second half, scoring 30 points in the game from turnovers, to take home the win, 81-56. Great Britain’s Lee Manning was unstoppable under the basket with 26 points and 10 rebounds, as Nicolas Jouanserre top-scored for France with 16 points.
The third quarter-final was much more clear-cut between Germany and Austria, as the Germans ran out comfortable winners 98-52. A commanding opening quarter, 27-14, gave Germany the base to build from, extending their lead to 52-33 at half-time as they took the opportunity to rest some of their squad who had already played big minutes in the tournament so far. Austria continued to fight but Germany were just too powerful scoring 66 points in the paint. Matthias Guntner top-scored for Germany with 25 points and Jan Sadler managed a double-double of 20 points and 10 assists, whilst Hubert Hager scored 21 points for Austria.
Poland were involved in another thriller in the last quarter-final of the day, this time against the Netherlands. Two distinctive styles of play were on show which made for an entertaining game throughout. Poland held a slender lead at the end of the first, 15-13, although it came with the price of Mateusz Filipski having to be taken out the game with three fouls. Despite a number of turnovers from Poland, they kept their noses in front at half-time, going in 28-25 up. For the majority of the third the Netherlands continued to trail, but two turnovers from Poland in the last minute of the quarter enabled the Dutch to take a lead going in to the fourth, 46-43. As emotions started to run high, the Netherlands opened up an eight-point advantage with four minutes to go, and although Poland pulled it back to three points with a minute to go, the Netherlands hung on to claim their place in the semi-finals, 62-58. Mendel Op Den Orth had 33 points and 11 rebounds for the Netherlands, with Andrzej Macek hitting 20 points for Poland and Dominik Mosler securing a double-double of 16 points and 16 rebounds.
In the crossover for the 9-12 games, Israel overcame a fightback from Lithuania to win 62-45 and ensure a place in the 9-10 playoff game and avoid relegation to Division B. Israel looked assured in the first half, albeit in a low scoring game, going into half-time leading 26-19. Lithuania managed to draw the game level midway through the third at 31-31, but a time-out and subs from Israel helped settle any nerves and they opened a slight advantage of four points going into the fourth. With this renewed confidence, Israel went on a 10-0 run and won the quarter 21-8 to finally end the Lithuanian resistance. Asael Shabo of Israel and Dalius Zymantas of Lithuania both hit 17 points for their teams.
Friday 10 December 2021
Semi-Finals – Court 1
14:30 – Germany vs Netherlands
19:00 Great Britain vs Italy
Crossover 5-8 Games – Court 2
15:30 – Austria vs Poland
17:45 – France vs Spain
(All times are local – CET)
Visit the 2021 European Championships Event Page for Live Stream, Statistics and Results.
Photo Credit: SA Images / Steffie Wunderl.