Today, the U20 European Challenger started in Tbilisi, in which the U20 national teams of France, Germany, Turkey, Poland and Bulgaria, together with Georgia coached by Milos Gligorijevic, are participating.
Due to the pandemic, the European youth championships were cancelled again and FIBA decided to hold 5-6 team challengers. European countries were divided into 3 categories and challengers were distributed according to them. Georgia was included in the top 18 teams of the continent and, consequently, the teams of several leading European basketball countries arrived in Tbilisi Challenger to compete.
Let us remind you that Georgia is the host of EuroBasket 2022 and this year we were supposed to host U20, Division B, but due to the above-mentioned pandemic reason, it was decided to hold a multi-team challenger instead of a large-scale tournament. The teams of the European advanced division play a total of 4 challengers – in Hungary, the Czech Republic, Greece and Georgia.
On the first game day, July 20, 3 matches of the first round were held. In the first match, the German team convincingly defeated Poland – 87:66 (Statistics), and Turkey defeated Bulgaria – 78:71 (Statistics).
The opponent of the Georgian team was one of the leaders in the world at this age category – the French team. Our team coached by Milos Gligorijevic and his assistants – Irakli Dzidziguri and Jaba Baqradze – put up a worthy resistance to the French team, which is considered favorite. It is true that in the end Georgians lost by 21 points – 63:84 (Statistics), But the difference in the score has increased in the final period. Before that, the Georgians kept the chance and did not allow the opponent to cut ahead.
Milos Gligorijevic is the assistant coach of the national team and generally, the task of the youth team is to prepare players for the national team. The result is also good, but there are cases when you play against a really strong opponent and you should use this chance first to gain experience, to learn and improve the game. In this regard, the confrontation with France was very useful for the Georgian team, which fought with dignity and made the spectators who came to the Palace of Sports hopeful and proud.
Avtandil Bakhtadze, born in 2007 (13 years old), played the last 3 minutes of the match, which is another proof that the coaching staff is using the Challenger games to discover a new generation, to test their talents and to focus on future ideas.
On July 21, in the second round, the Georgian team will play against Turkey. The match will start at 20:00, before that Poland will meet Bulgaria and Germany will meet France.