Bracket play (the Round of 16) tipped off on Wednesday, as 16 teams had hopes of advancing to the 2016 U20 FIBA European Championship quarterfinals.
Yankuba Sima and Spain, who finished at 2-1 in group play, demolished Hungary (87-66) from tip-to-finish. Hungary had issues making the simple plays, turned the ball way too often, and lacked the bodies to compete with Spain's size and talent. Spain will take on Latvia (who beat Sweden by 13 in the Round of 16) on Friday in the quarters at 1:45 p.m. ET.
Federico Mussini and Italy played the role of comeback kids against Serbia. Italy, who finished 1-2 in group play, rallied from down 10 in the 4th quarter to steal a five point victory. Italy will also play on Friday, as they will match-up against Turkey in the quarters at 7 a.m. ET.
Sima leads Spain's transition attack
Spain did not need more than 20 minutes from Sima on Wednesday, but when the big man was in the game, he greatly impacted the team's transition attack. Sima ran the floor superbly, finishing alley-oops and put backs before Hungary could even reach the other end of the court.
In fact, six of Sima's 10 points came off dunks, something that has rarely happened due to other clubs limiting Spain's transition opportunities in this tournament.
Overall, Sima finished with 10 points on 5-of-10 shooting, no free throws, four rebounds and two steals.
The only negatives to take away from this performance was the three turnovers (he continued to be a bit loose with the ball) and he missed some easy point blank layups. Sima's touch comes and goes, and he doesn't necessarily have the softest hands in basketball.
Sima picked up his first foul less than two minutes into the game, and Hungary also limited their drives offensively. This resulted in Sima finishing with zero blocks on the day.
4th quarter is Mussini Time
Mussini sparked Italy to victory by scoring 15 total points on 5-of-11 shooting (3-of-8 from downtown), two assists, two turnovers, and three steals. But Mussini's presence was really felt in the fourth quarter, where he dropped eight points, including two monster threes mid-way through the final period.
With 7:11 remaining, the Italian point guard nailed a long three from the right wing that cut Serbia's lead down to two. Minutes later, Mussini nailed a second trey from the left wing, putting Italy up three heading into crunch time.
As mentioned time and time again during the college season, Mussini has the capability of catching fire quickly due to his knock down shooting touch. He can either shoot a team back into a game (vs. Rutgers) or greatly impact a team's shot selection (numerous times during Big East play).
Regardless of whether he is hitting shots or not, Mussini is always active in pick-and-roll situations offensively. He changes speeds and directions relatively well because of his craftiness with the ball in his hands. However, when teams like Serbia pressure him full court, he tends to turn the ball over and lose his comfort level.
On the defensive end, Mussini continues to compete, giving good effort level every possession. The problem is his lack of quickness and lateral movement. Serbia put Mussini into constant pick-and-roll situations, which opened up 5-on-4 offensive attacks and led to numerous easy buckets early in the game.
Again, it's not Mussini's effort that is lacking (he did have three steals). Instead, it's just his foot speed that isn't up to par.
While these are things he must work on before the 2016-17 season, his offensive punch and clutch gene paid off for Italy in the first round of bracket play.