Sofia, Bulgaria – Day 2 of the U16 FIBA European Challengers here in Sofia was opened by the teams of Switzerland and Portugal. Portugal dominated from the start to win it – 65-47. Ruben Prey had another strong showing at the event, this time leading his team with 14 points and an impressive 16 rebounds. He shot 7-of-15 from the field and added three blocks, demonstrating his great touch around the rim and shot blocking instincts. Salvador Victo (2005), a 6-foot-1 point guard added 12 points and six boards, while his teammate Nathan Noronha helped with nine points (3-of-5 from deep), three assists and four steals. The Swiss 6-4 guard Liban Nuux (2006) scored eight points, shooting 4-of-11 from the field in a losing effort.
In the first game for the day played at Triaditsa Sports Hall, Croatia prevailed over Latvia – 69-58. The Croatians performed very well in the second quarter (20-9), getting a comfortable 45-31 advantage after the first half. The Latvians had another bad shooting night from outside, hitting only 5-of-27 from that range. In addition, they went 11-of-22 from the charity line, while the Croatians were more aggressive, going to the free-throw line more times, making 20-of-37. David Pavin was once again the top scorer for his team, recording 24 points and six rebounds, shooting 8-of-18 from the field, including 2-of-6 from deep. His teammate Vito Perkovic, a 2006-born big, helped Croatia by adding nine points and grabbing 14 rebounds. For Latvia, Roberts Blums scored 15 points, shooting 2-of-3 from outside, while his teammate Toms Linis, a 6-5 guard added nine points, shooting 3-of-8 from long range.
Georgia built up an early advantage in the first quarter to eventually win 86-76 against Cyprus in the next game on the schedule. Tengo Gogishvili, a 2005-born guard led the winners in scoring with 27 points and 10 rebounds, shooting 8-of-15 from the field and 11-of-14 from the charity stripe. His teammate Luka Alavidze, a 2005-born guard added 18 points and seven assists. Stefanos Tigkas (2005), a 6-1 guard, scored a game-high 29 points and also grabbed 10 boards in a losing effort, while shooting 11-of-26 from the field. His teammate Michail Christofides added 17 points, shooting 6-of-16 from the field.
In the most anticipated game of the day, in a packed Triaditsa sports hall, Germany controlled the game against Bulgaria to get an 88-65 win. The Germans dominated the glass, securing 61 boards, 20 of which offensive against only 37 (11 on offense) for Bulgaria. Germany turned those more rebounds into more second chance points – 18 against 6. Both teams hit 13 3-pointers, while Bulgaria took a bit more attempts than Germany – 34-30, respectively. Martin Kalu had a terrific shooting night, scoring a game-high 36 points, shooting the lights out from deep (8-of-10). Kalu demonstrated once again his great, cold-blooded scoring abilities against a packed home team arena. Joshua Bonga finished just one assist shy of a triple-double, having 19 points, 10 boards and nine assists, orchestrating the German attack, but also showing scoring abilities at all three levels. For Bulgaria, Aleksandar Gavalyugov (2006), a 6-foot-1 shifty guard with great handles and high basketball IQ scored 19 points, shooting 5-of-14 from deep. His teammate Stefan Mihaylov, 6-foot-7 lefty forward added 16 points, being 7-of-17 from the field and also grabbed five boards.
In the last game from the schedule Hungary ran past Slovakia 86-63. Bulcsu Major (2005), a 6-foot-5 forward led the winners in scoring with 21 points, recording all of his points from long range, being 7-of-13 from there. Balint Szoke (2005), a 6-foot-7 forward added 13 points and nine assists for the win. Robert Hudec was once again the top scorer for Slovakia, finishing with 21 points, hitting 4-of-9 from deep, while his teammate Lubomir Urban (2005), a 6-foot-3 guard added 13 points.
The games from Day 3 will be started with a deciding game for the second place in Group D between the teams of Switzerland and Ukraine. At Triaditsa Sports Hall, Latvia will play against Poland, looking to get its first win at the event, while the Polish players will try to remain undefeated. Meanwhile at St. George School Gym, Cyprus will face Georgia. Later Bulgaria will compete against Croatia at Triaditsa Sports Hall, while at the other gym Slovakia and Hungary will close Day 3 program.