Joel Ayayi and Filip Petrusev will face each other in the FIBA U18 European Championships Semi-Finals after France and Serbia both won close contests on Friday morning.
Following Wednesday’s 31-point outburst, Ayayi went out and hit a game winning three with 25 seconds remaining in overtime. France beat Montenegro 76-74. Montenegro was coming off a shocking upset of undefeated Spain and almost pulled off another one. His French teammate at Gonzaga appreciated the heroics.
Before hitting the game-winner, the Gonzaga redshirt freshman struggled a bit with turnovers, but still put up a nice performance. He finished the game with 15 points on 6-11 shooting (2-2 from deep) to go with four assists and seven turnovers in 33 minutes of action.
If you haven’t watched Ayayi throughout the tournament, he has incredible court vision, is excellent using ball screens, and his passing ability is superb. However, he has a tendency to take a lot of risks because of that ability and it can burn him at times. The main takeaway I’ve got from this tournament, especially the last two games, is that he has a lot of confidence taking big shots. He scored nine straight points to give France a late fourth quarter lead on Wednesday, and then on Friday, he drained a crossover, game winning three in a guy’s face, in overtime, with all the confidence in the world.
On the other side of the bracket, Filip Petrusev put together another stellar performance as Serbia beat Germany 92-86 in a back-and-forth affair. Petrusev finished with 23 points (9-15 FG) and 10 rebounds, including 12 points in the deciding fourth quarter. He’s had 20+ points and 7+ rebounds in all five games of the tournament.
Petrusev has done all of his work in the paint. He’s been a catalyst in the pick-and-roll game for Serbia and has shown excellent post moves. He has not been needed to stretch the floor, but we have seen him do that throughout his high school career. I watched portions of a couple Serbia games the last week and have been pleasantly surprised at how developed he is with his post game. His footwork and instincts have been terrific.
For those interested, Serbia and France will square off in the semi-finals Saturday morning at 10:45 am pacific time. You can watch it on youtube for free. Check the FIBA website for details.