Day one of the 2016 U20 FIBA European Championship began in Finland on Saturday, and two current Johnnies played their first games of the tournament.
Big man Yankuba Sima started for Spain in their 60-59 victory over France. Spain won on a buzzer beating three pointer from Marc Garcia.
Point guard Federico Mussini came off the bench for Italy in their defeat at the hands of the Czech Republic, 82-71. It certainly didn't seem that close as Czech Republic dominated from start to finish.
Sima battles foul trouble
In Spain's victory, Sima finished with just two points on 1-of-5 shooting, six rebounds, zero assists and one block in 18 minutes of action. The reason for the limited minutes was the result of foul trouble, as the center picked up his third foul just four minutes into the second half.
When he was on the court, Sima had a very limited impact though. He set solid screens in pick-and-roll situations (opening up the lane for his teammates to attack), but he is at his best offensively when he is scoring from the block. Spain tends to run a lot of high screen-and-rolls and likes to space the floor, which limits Sima's opportunities to finish around the rim.
He still looks rather tentative using his left hand, however, his lone field goal did come from a left-handed hook shot on the left block.
France had a very solid offensive game plan, as they continuously tried to pull Sima and his length away from the paint. He began the day altering some shots around the rim, but was never really much of a factor on that end of the floor due to his early fouls and France's five-out offense.
The good news: Sima, who hasn't played a live basketball game in months, wasn't the only player in this game that was trying to find his footing.
Mussini finds confidence late
Mussini scored 16 points on 4-of-12 shooting (4-of-9 from three), grabbed three rebounds, dished out two assists and committed three turnovers in Italy's loss.
The point guard was 0-of-5 from three through the first three quarters, only scored on free throws in the first and third quarters and didn't make his first field goal until the 7:32 mark in the fourth. But he did shoot the ball with confidence in the final period, drilling all four of his threes from well beyond the arc.
While he switched between playing on and off the ball for the majority of the game, Mussini hit his stride when he can the rock in his hands. He changed direction nicely and drilled two threes off screens.
Even though his lack of strength (he was out-muscled for two rebounds) and speed is still a concern moving forward, it was a solid overall U20 debut.