Sofia, Bulgaria – Day 4 at the U16 FIBA European Challengers started with a down-to-the-wire game between Switzerland and Cyprus, which was won by Switzerland – 61-60. Luka Stankovic (2006), a 6-foot-4 forward led the winners in scoring with 13 points, hitting 2-of-8 from long range, showing soft touch on his shot and nice potential as a pick-and-pop stretch 4. His teammate Andrin Njock (2006), an undersized frontcourt player, put great effort on both ends, playing bigger than his actual size, finishing with 11 points, nine boards, two steals and two blocked shots. For Cyprus, Panagiotis Koutouris, a 2006-born forward led the team in scoring with 14 points and six boards, shooting 6-of-10 from the field, while his teammate Stefanos Tigkas had 12 points, but shot 1-of-7 from long range.
In the next game, played at Triaditsa Sports Hall, Germany prevailed over Croatia – 81-71. The Croatians was overwhelmed by the great athleticism of the German players in the first half, losing by 16 points (47-31). The Germans ran hard on both ends, scoring more points from fast breaks than their opponent – 28-20. Germany also had an advantage in the points scored from second chances – 24-13. Martin Kalu led the winners in scoring with a game-high 26 points, shooting 7-of-17 from the field, including 4-of-7 from long range. Joshua Bonga had a strong showing with 23 points, eight rebounds and three assists, showing his good scoring abilities thanks to his length and shifty handles. Declan Duru (2007), a 6-foot-8 athletic forward and the youngest player at the event, who had a solid double-double of 17 points and 13 rebounds, stole the show with a two-foot dunk on Matej Akrap.
In a low-scoring contest between Portugal and Hungary, the Hungarians prevailed in overtime to win – 63-54. Balint Szoke had a nice all-around performance, finishing with 13 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists for the winners. For Portugal, Ruben Pred put up a monstrous double-double of 21 points and 23 rebounds, adding also four steals and three blocked shots.
Poland won a close game against the hosts from Bulgaria – 80-76. Poland controlled the game, especially in the first half (50-37), but let Bulgaria to stay close and make a comeback in the last quarter, fueled primarily by Stefan Mihaylov’s solid shooting. finishing with a game-high 25 points (4-of-7 on threes). Poland was very aggressive on the defensive end, double-teaming and running through passing lanes, finishing with 15 steals against only six for Bulgaria. The Polish players had also an advantage in scoring more points from turnovers – 18-6, while being more efficient off second chance points too – 15-2. Pawel Sowinski and Szymon Nowicki both led the winners in scoring with 17 points, adding eight and ten rebounds, respectively. Teammate Marcin Kosiorowski scored 16 points, hitting 4-of-10 from outside. Beside Mihaylov’s good shooting night, Stanislav Hinkov once again displayed his solid shooting mechanics, finishing with 18 points and ten rebounds, hitting 3-of-6 from long range. Aleksander Gavalyugov recorded a double-double of 11 points and 12 assists, but also went scoreless from deep (0-of-10).
In the last game for the day Georgia ran past Ukraine – 82-62. The Georgians seemed to have a better team chemistry and play with more energy, putting more effort and competitiveness on both ways, making up for their size disadvantage. Luka Alavidze once again was the leader for Georgia, having a solid all-around game – 21 points, seven rebounds, eight assists and an impressive seven steals. His teammate Tengo Gogishvili, a 2005-born guard added 19 points, five boards and three steals. For Ukraine, Mykyta Yalovenko (2005), a 6-foot-7 frontcourt player and Nikita Korotchenko (2005), a 6-foot-9 forward, both scored 11 points, adding nine and two boards, respectively.
The last day of the tournament will be opened by the teams of Slovakia and Switzerland at St. George School Gym. Later in Triaditsa Sports Hall Poland will face the other undefeated team at the event, Germany playing for first place, while Portugal will compete again Ukraine for third place in the other group. After that the hosts from Bulgaria will play against Latvia, deciding which team will not finish winless the event, while at the other gym Georgia and Hungary will play for first place in their group.