Deeply moved by comments and less tired than yesterday, I am taking on the attempt to write short previews as well. So, here comes the Day 2 Eurobasket Preview!
- Spain vs Portugal: Spain will take a breather by crushing Portugal. Spain's neighbors aren't as fearsome in basketball as they're in soccer, so Spain will probably rest important pieces like the Gasols and Navarro, letting their talented substitutes have some playing time. I think we're gonna see a lot of Sergio Llull in this game. Prediction: Hands down, Spain. EDIT: Spain wins 87 - 73, this time with a much more balanced effort (4 players in double figures), elder Gasol and Navarro leading the way.
- Poland vs Lithuania: The hosts had a difficult time yesterday, and needed help from their bench to overcome Great Britain. The Polish felt the absence of Marcin Gortat, but still gave Spain a scare. This is a game no team can afford to lose, and I expect it to be close and low-scoring. Prediction: Poland will have to look elsewhere for points, Lithuania takes this one with superior guard play. Lithuania actually won with a 20 point margin, shooting an astonishing 69% from the floor (46% on three-pointers), playing a very efficient game. Poland had a meager 11 assists and 19 rebounds to show (10 offensive!) and a poor shooting night for leading scorer Kelati.
- Great Britain vs Turkey: The FIBA website considers this to be the "Game Of The Day". True enough, since yesterday Great Britain is actually a team not to be taken lightly. Luol Deng will wreck havoc against the aging turkish backcourt, the question is how the Turks are going to handle their obvious size advantage. If they manage to slow down Deng and the tempo, then the game is theirs to lose. Prediction: I think that the British are gonna steal the game, or rather I wish so. Wishful thinking. Britain never stood a chance; apart from another lonely effort by Deng, Great Britain was utterly crushed in this game, losing 61 - 90 to Turkey. Emir Preldzic had a healthy stats line, with 15/4/6. Only black spot for Turkey a dismal free throw shooting percentage (54.5%).
- Latvia vs Serbia: Blums had the game of his life yesterday, but there was too much Parker in the way, and France held on to win. Serbia had one of their difficult games in the premiere, and managed to win against Italy. They cannot afford tto relax yet; Latvia seems to be the most determined underdog of the tournament, and even though Serbia will defend better, Latvia should be treated with respect after yesterday. Prediction: Serbia wins this, but Latvia always remains within striking distance. Caution is advised. Serbia wins 92 - 77. Krstic scores 23 points, Teodosic has 9 with 9 assists in 18 minutes. Latvia has 5 players in double figures.
- Israel vs France: I still don't get why Israel is participating in a european tournament, but they don't get a break just yet. A night after being steamrolled by Germany they get to face France, who can afford to still be a bit out of shape. The talent difference alone will give France the win, Parker will carry Les Bleus again. Prediction: France wins, it doesn't look as ugly as yesterday unless the French have become a team overnight. Israel mounted a run behind Eliyahu midway through the second, while Parker was not on the floor. Right when he returned though, things started happening again for France, which ran two short spurts of its own to put the game out of reach and gain an effortless 68 - 85 victory.
- Italy vs Germany: Italy will be looking to snatch a win, but as always, they need all three stars to provide scoring and defense simultaneously, which is something that won't happen a lot against good teams. Germany can defend the 3-4 and the 5 well enough. I don't see Italy getting away with it. Prediction: Germany has to sweat this one, but they still get it. Just as I predicted, the game was close until the very end. Germany trusted Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Kaman with the ball, although none of them had a particularly good shooting night. This paid off in the fourth quarter, when the two stars scored 14 of 20 points for Germany, leading them to a victory against an italian team which looked pretty desperate in the fourth quarter, only jacking up threes. It must be noted that Germany got scoring out of mostly 4 players (two more than their stars) while Italy had Belinelli, Gallinari and Bargnani carry the load again. It was a role player who stepped up when Bargnani failed to contribute offensively (he did play excellent defence on Kaman), Manchinelli, but I'm gonna say it again: Italy's offense is WAY too one-dimensional.
- Bosnia & Herzegobina vs Montenegro: Montenegro needed OT to win against FYROM yesterday, and Teletovic won't be shooting 0-9 everyday. The inexperience of the newcomers, combined with the tenacity of the Bosnians will be the deciding factor in this game, I judge, and I think Bosnia and Herzegobina will bounce back from their opening game loss to Greece. Prediction: Montenegro lose the lead midway through the third and Bosnia & Herzegobina maintains the lead to win a nervous game. Bosnia & Herzegobina win 94 - 86, Teletovic scores 23, Dedovic records a 19/5/5 with 2 steals and one block. And for the record, Montenegro had a hell of a third quarter, and lost the game in the fourth.
- Finland vs Greece: I got a lot of respect for Finland since yesterday. They seemed to thoroughly enjoy the game, every moment of it, and I liked that a lot. They also put Croatia to the ropes. Greece won't show such immaturity as to let Finland play their game, and will force them to attack 5 on 5 (not the strong point of these Scandinavians). Greece might also find their groove, since they'll probably get some easy points in the paint. Prediction: Greece wins this one, Finland still enjoys playing. Pretty much as predicted. The Finnish tried to run the floor, Greece played grown-up defense, fed the big guys, then spread the court with some 3-pointers in the third period and made the rest of the game a ceremony. Greece needs to cut down turnovers though.
- FYROM vs Croatia: The Croatians survived a scare yesterday, and they desperately need to get their act together, or they'll be leaving this Eurobasket in a disappointing way. FYROM is by no means a team with superior talent, but they have (in contrast to Croatia) a defined game plan, and a capable point guard. Still, if Croatia feeds the big men and defends the three-ball, they should win. Prediction: If FYROM can surprise the Croatians at the beginning, we could very well have an "upset" here. I'd like to see that happen. The Croatians were asking for it yesterday, they got it today. They continued playing with fire, allowing FYROM to stay close, even surrendering the lead from time to time. Then, suddenly the clock was down to 30'' and FYROM had the ball. After Ilievsky made a running layup with 10'' to go, Croatia tried to go for a three, then failed because of excellent team defense. Their chances of getting onward are getting slimmer by the day, and they''ll need to beat Greece to ensure they get out.
- Bulgaria vs Belgium: Belgium succumbed without a fight against Georgia, and Bulgaria had a close game against Slovenia; judging from yesterday, I'd say Bulgaria has the tools and the will to compete and win, much more so than Belgium. This would be the first ever win for either team in a Eurobasket. Prediction: E.J. Rowland and Bulgaria win this one. EJ Rowland scores 22, Bulgaria goes 87% from the charity stripe. 68 - 65.
- Georgia vs Russia: It was easy bullying the Belgians, but Zaza Pachulia and Georgia won't have such an easy time against Russia. Kirilenko could be the difference-maker, since Georgia has no reliable solutions at the SF position. If Russia utilizes a big lineup with Kirilenko at the three, he could have mismatches, as there's nobody who can effectively defend both the dribble and the 3-point shot (and can guard Kirilenko in a post-up situation). Prediction: Russia gets this one. There's talent difference. Obvious talent difference. They stifled Pachulia and answered to Georgia's inside game with their own. They also had another big night from Kirilenko who delivered when he was most needed. A deserved win for Russia, 58 - 65.
Ukraine vs Slovenia: A balanced effort from Slovenia would be the ideal. Slovenia has talented bigs, but needs their guards to space the floor, since Ukraine's strength lies in the paint. If Slovenia manages to make Urkaine bigs think in defense (should I help? Can I leave my man? Will he shoot?) then success is guaranteed. Ukraine will try to keep things simple, and just pass inside. Prediction: Slovenia has the experience to handle a team like Ukraine. Slovenia wins. Slovenia was supposed to make quick work out of this game, but they managed to pile as many turnovers in the last quarter as they had in the previous three. This allowed Ukraine to close the gap, and make it a two-possession game. Then the Ukranians made a turnover of themselves, and Slovenia capitalized, hanging on for the win. Goran Dragic fouled out with 5 points and 5 turnovers on 1-5 shooting. Looks pretty bad, doesn't it?
I'll try to update the post with the actual results. And good luck, IrishThrasher! :P EDIT: I actually did update. Should I continue doing the reviews in this format?