Gonzaga guard Joel Ayayi exploded for 31 points, virtually single-handedly dragging France to a 86-81 victory over Greece. Meanwhile, Zag teammate and incoming freshman Filip Petrusev scored another casual 25 points as Serbia defeated Ukraine, 121-49.
With France trailing 70-65 in the fourth quarter, Ayayi scored nine straight points to give France a lead it would not relinquish for the rest of the game. Ayayi finished the game hitting 13-of-21 from the floor, including going 2-of-5 from three point range and picking up five steals.
This highlight reel provides an excellent look at Ayayi, highlighted by his speed and some nice looking mid-range jumpers.
Gran actuación de Joel Ayayi (31 puntos, 5 rebotes, 5 robos) en octavos de final del #FIBAU18Europe. El escolta de Gonzaga mostró intensidad atrás, fluidez en PnR y un tacto sobresaliente en los 'floaters'.— Nacho Juan (@NachoJuanRules) August 1, 2018
Expectante por su rol en los Zags tras su primer año como 'redshirt'. pic.twitter.com/cGBwxDuXT2
Ayayi will need to develop a quality jumper, but he is still young in his development, and today’s game is a good example of the raw talent he is working with. It was in the key or bust for Ayayi, who either launched a three or made sure he was near the basket during the game.
For Petrsuev, it was yet another strong game. The Serbian big man finished with 25 points and nine rebounds off of 9-of-15 shooting. He only logged 20 minutes in the game, not surprising considering the final score.
France now advances to play Montenegro on Friday, and Serbia will take on Germany on the same day. If both teams continue their winning ways, France and Serbia will meet in the semifinals of the FIBA U18 Championship.