Blowout victory for Armenia with one gameday to go
(31-11, 20-9, 24-12, 18-4)
The Malta Under-16 men’s team suffered a defeat that they’ll be hoping to forget as they fell to Armenia with a 57-point differential on Wednesday at the FIBA Under-16 European Championships Division C fifth-ninth place Classification Group.
It was a dominant showing for Armenia from start to finish as the Malta boys could not find an answer to the former’s attacks.
Armenia’s accuracy on the day was clear as they led with 18 steals and five blocks on defence, 36 fast break points, and 44 points from their bench players.
Artyom Nazlukhanyan led the game’s scoring with 18 points as Davit Vardanyan followed with 14 points and seven rebounds. Sebastian Minassian rounded off the double-digit scorers with 13 points. Sebastian Hatsakorzian was close with eight points but managed 10 boards.
At the other end, Luke Attard was Malta’s sole double-digit scorer after putting up 11 points. Matthew Sammut could not contribute on offence but did grab 10 rebounds.
The gulf in class looked evident as Malta suffered a tough opening to an Armenian side that put up a 31-point first quarter. Armenia, who finished third in Group B, level on points with the top two sides, but out of the running only through overall points difference, were favourites to win the game and made their statement from the outset.
The first four minutes of the first quarter were the only time in the game that Malta were close to their opponents – Malta leading for 20 seconds – before Armenia went on an 11-0 run to steam ahead.
Malta managed a 5-0 run at the beginning of the second quarter but the rest was just as difficult, with Armenia going one step better with a 16-0 run midway through the rubber. Malta were held to just nine points in the quarter as they appeared to struggle to make any headway against an accurate Armenia side who was 50% from two-point range and had made more than 30 rebounds, together with double-digit steals already before the halftime break.
Armenia started the second half with 12 straight points with six minutes to go in the third quarter. Malta’s defence looked troubled, with Armenia finding wide open spaces to rack up more points as the gap grew to 46 with 3.25 to go. It was now a mammoth task for Omar Said’s clan to bring the game to closer margins but seemingly, the Malta boys could not find a way to stop the Armenians, who were quick to free themselves up in offence, while fast in recovery to pack the interior on defence.
43 points down, the fourth quarter looked like a formality. Nonetheless, Armenia continued to exploit the Maltese’s frailties, pushing the lead up to 50 with 2.34 to go.
Malta play Albania in their final fixture of the tournament (tip-off: 3pm) to determine their final placing at the games in Kosovo.
A. Aslanyan 6, A. Avagyan 2, D. Boyadjian 8, A. Nazlukhanyan 18, D. Vardanyan 14, N. Brown 8, K. Dehbashian 5, W. Gharabekyan 9, S. Hatsakorzian 8, E. Khachatryan, S. Minassian 13, H. Stamboltsyan 2.
K. Fabri 1, K. Galea 4, M. Micallef, S. Ransley, M. Rieger 2, L. Attard 11, M. Buttigieg de Piro 7, K. Deguara, J. Dimech, K. Fabri 7, S. Pace 4, M. Sammut.
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