Skopje, Northern Macedonia – Day 4 of the U18 European Challenger in Skopje started with a blowout victory of Germany over Georgia – 106-58. The Germans opened up the game playing aggressively on defense which helped them get easy points on the other side of the floor and get them a comfortable advantage – 63-24 after the first half. Michael Ken-Rataj had another solid game at the event, leading the winners in scoring with 19 points (11 of them came in the first quarter) in only 16 minutes of play, adding three rebounds and three steals, shooting 4-of-6 from long range. His teammate Benjamin Schroeder played once again a major role, finishing with 18 points, five boards and four assists. 6-foot-5 shooting guard of the winners, Chukwuemeka J. Onyejiaka played a good game, coming off the bench, recording 14 points, six boards and two steals. Onyejiaka has been having a quiet tournament so far, scoring only a total of 10 points in the first three games of the tournament. For Georgia, Giorgi Ochkhikidze had another good game in terms of scoring, getting 16 points and six rebounds, shooting 4-of-8 on threes, but didn’t manage to help his team stay close to its opponent.
In the second game for the day Spain prevailed over Croatia – 96-74, but the win didn’t come in as easy as the results suggests. Spain won the game on the defensive side of the floor as they forced Croatia to make more turnovers (25 against only 10 of Spain) thanks to their aggressive and pesky man-to-man defense and good helping defense, trapping and running into passing lanes. Spain exploited those mistakes, with a 29-10 advantage on points from turnovers and scored 22 points on fast breaks, while Croatia had only 12. Sediq Garuba had another terrific showing on the defensive end of the court and also scored a game-high 17 points, shooting 7-of-13 from the field, including 3-of-5 from outside. He added three boards and three steals. His teammate Jordi Stegemeijer recorded 16 points and three steals, hitting 4-of-8 from long distance, while Baba Miller had an efficient night, shooting 5-of-6 from the field (3-of-4 on threes), finishing with 14 points and three steals. For Croatia, Duje Brala and Filip Kalajzic both recorded 13 points in a losing effort.
Serbia topped Northern Macedonia – 88-73 in a tough game with 82 total free throws, including a bunch of technical and unsportsmanlike fouls. Serbia won the game in the fourth quarter with a 29-14 advantage. The game was even – 59-59 after 30 minutes of play thanks to the tenacity and aggressiveness demonstrated from the Macedonian players, which helped them to stay close. Ilija Milijasevic, a 2004-born guard guided his team in this game, scoring 21 points, shooting 8-of-11 from the charity stripe, adding five boards and three steals. His teammates Djordje Curcic and Lazar Djokovic added 14 points and 11 points and nine boards, respectively. Andrej Mitrevski scored 22 points shooting 8-of-18 from the field (4-of-7 3s) in the losing effort for Northern Macedonia.
The last day of the event will be opened by the teams of Georgia and Croatia, trying to finish the event with a win. In the second game of the program Spain and Serbia, will face each other to decide which of those two will leave Skopje unbeaten. The hosts from Northern Macedonia will be looking to close the event with a win over the tough team of Croatia, which will try to escape from a two-game losing streak.