HAMBURG (FIBA U17 World Championship) - In little less than a week, the Hamburg Sporthalle has seen some breathtaking basketball action played by an extremely talented pool of players. Yesterday, the preliminary round came to a climax as Owen Odigie netted a last second buzzer beater to propell Australia into the quarter final round at the expense of an excellent but underachieving Spain team.
And as the buzzer sounded just before 11:00pm, Friday's quarter final line-up was finally known. Now things really hot up, as the quarter-final round gets underway.
Canada, who have shown their quality in all areas of play face off against a Chinese team who have deservedely been praised by crowd and coaches alike. The key to this tie will be the battle between the two teams charismatic guards Kevin Pangus (CAN) - who masterfully controls the pace of the game - and Ailun Guo (CHN) - who tops the scoring chart and lies second in number of assists.
The second quarter-final opposes a seemingly unstoppable USA, who are undefeated and in spite of some outstanding talend (Girlchrist, Mc Adoo, Beal) are impressive above all in their team play, and Australia, who have gained momentum following a slow start to the Championship and who will go into this round following their best performance to date, with David and Goliath - Daniel Hill and Andrija Domovic - playing on one and the same team.
The third quarter-final sees hosts Germany take on Lithuania. The Germans have played Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde in their first five games, which included a brutal 33-79 defeat to Poland and an exquisite defeat of an excellent Canada. The Lithunainians have also struggles for consistency. Lithuania's Mantas Mockevicius, whose power driving for the basket is as good as any other player in the Championship, will yet again be Lithuania's key man. As for Germany,head coach Frank Menz has already stated the importance of Besnik Bekteshi whose form dictates that of his team.
The last remaining quarter-final berths belong to Serbia and Poland. Serbia's key so far has been their physical power and controlled aggressivity. They first quarter against the USA, which closed with the Europeans in the lead, showed that Serbia is a team not to be taken lightly, in spite of them narrowly avoiding an early exit. Leading the rebounding stats for Serbia is the powerful Nemanja Bezbradica. Poland, who remain undefeated, are the surprise package of the tournament. Mateusz Ponitka lies second in the scoring charts, while their captain Michal Michalak has done everything that could have been expected of him. And then there's their 212cm monster Przemyslaw Karnowski, who stands supreme as the Championship's best rebounder.
Quarter finals / Classification round, Friday 9th July 2010
Game 31: 10:00 Argentina v Korea (classification round)
Game 32: 12:15 Spain v Egypt (classification round)
Game 33: 14:30 Canada v China
Game 34: 16:45 USA v Australia
Game 35: 19:00 Lithuania v Germany
Game 36: 21:15 Poland v Serbia
U17 World Championship results are pusblished on the FIBA twitter page.
All final round games will be streamed live on fibatv.com.