Lithuania, Italy shine on Day 1 of FIBA 3x3 Europe Cup 2023
5 Sep 2023
JERUSALEM (Israel) - Lithuania (Men) and Italy (Women) go perfect on Day 1 of the FIBA 3x3 Europe Cup 2023 on September 5.
Having had three of their core see success at the World Tour recently with Raudondvaris Hoptrans, Lithuania (Men) came into the tournament with momentum.
The team quickly connected right from the jump, picking up a fundamental 21 - 13 victory against Czechia. Aurelius Pukelis showcased his sheer strength in the paint as he put up a 5-point, 4-rebound display. Sarunas Vinjelis picked up an efficient 6 points while Marijus Uzupis led the game in scoring with 8 along with the two that sealed the game.
They took on the high-flying German side next who were playing to keep their hopes in the tournament alive. The gritty defense from Lithuania stifled any acrobatics from the youthful side as they managed to dish a taste of Germany’s own medicine to them with Evaldas Dziaugys jamming down two powerful dunks in his 7-point display. No one had an answer to Pukelis’ power and acumen either as he went off for 9 points. It was another comfortable 21 - 13 victory for Lithuania as they booked their spot in the Quarter-Finals against Belgium.
Latvia (Men) was another side to go unbeaten on the day as they dispatched off the debuting Cyprus 22 - 10 before pulling away with a resourceful 15 - 22 win against a loaded Belgian side. They played a free-flowing pass-first offense giving them plenty of offensive options. Each member of the team having a 6-point plus scoring night is a testament to their versatility.
Karlis Lasmanis was the all-round go-to player for the team while Lacis was the one who would find himself on the end of offensive plays. Zigmars Raimo utilized his strength to great use on both ends, having a huge impact defensively as well. They will face Czechia in the Quarter-Finals of the Europe Cup.
It would unfortunately be the end of the campaign for the thrilling German side and Cyprus, who made their Europe Cup debut this season.
On the Women’s side, Italy made a statement in Jerusalem. The usual trio was joined by Laura Spreafico who had recently made waves in the Women’s Series with her dynamic offense.
They would take on a German side that took to the court with a double Big lineup of Sonja Greinacher and Ama Degbeon. The addition of Degbeon and Jenny Crowder from the recently successful Düsseldorf ZOOS team bolstered their side. However, it didn’t take long for the skillful Italy to get going, utilizing their speed and footwork to run rings around the opposition. Despite the assumed threat, the big lineup of Germany posed to players like Sara Madera, it was her that went off on offense. Her ability to skilfully maneuver her way to the bucket while also being able to drain shots from behind the arc gave Germany problems throughout the game. Spreafico added 5 points as well, showing signs of her offensive prowess. It would be a statement 10 - 17 victory for them against a contending side to start their campaign.
They went up against home side Italy next in a closely contested back-and-forth affair. Hadar Hadad and Drew Edelman combined for 14 points but fell short thanks to an incredible 10-point display from Spreafico. She had immense success from deep, scoring three from two-range. Madera would add 7 as the side would pick up a gritty 22 - 18 victory to go perfect. They will take on Spain in the Quarter-Finals.
Another team to make a statement on the night would be the Netherlands (Women). Coming off their first Women’s Series win in Pont du Gard, momentum was in their favor. They took care of business against Luxembourg in the opener, coming away with an 18 - 8 victory with Noortje Driessen going off for 9 points. Boonstra would dominate the boards while Loyce Bettonvil would be the defensive hub for the Dutch women.
They would turn heads with a resilient 15 - 21 victory against the contending Spain. Driessen and Boonstra would be too quick and strong to stop as they would combine for 14 points to lead their side to the win. Going perfect on the day. they will go on to face Germany in the Quarter-Finals.
Israel, led by Drew Edelman fought valiantly but it would be the end of their Campaign after going winless in their games along with the debuting Luxembourg.
Latvia’s (Men) Francis Lacis was the offensive juggernaut of a side that was impossible to pin down. He put up 15 points over two games to finish Day 1 as top scorer. He was on the end of some crafty plays, jamming a few to add some flash to his repertoire.
Lithuania’s (Men) Aurelijus Pukelis had a tremendous impact for his side, not only in the traditional sense with his size allowing him to rack up points, though that was the case with him picking up 14 points, it was his role on the perimeter as well. He wasn’t afraid to make action difficult and push on further out which allowed him to get the ball early and orchestrate for his side. He finished with the highest Player-value score of 17.
On the Women’s side, it was impossible to choose who the shining light for Italy was with the duo of Sara Madera and Laura Spreafico being immense. Madera would finish second in scoring with 16 points while also finishing second in rebounds with 11. Spreafico put the team on her shoulder against Israel as she put up 10 points in a game, finishing the night with 15.
The Netherlands (Women) were led by Noortje Driessen. She put up 16 points as well while also having the highest Player-Value score with 20.7. She ran the proceedings for her side as they had a perfect Day 1 to the Europe Cup.
Group Action concludes tomorrow with the best still on its way. The champions Serbia (Men) and France (Women) will take to the court to commence their bid at retention. All that and more goes down tomorrow in Jerusalem.