So, here I go again
on my own : I'm experiencing some internet and boredom issues over the last three days (I expect them to end by tomorrow, at least the internet ones), and have been a little on and off lately. So today I'll be compensating with A) a review of yesterday's games and a preview of today's (Finland vs Georgia is currently being played, but it doesn't really count, since Georgia lost Pachulia and is out either way, and Finland players have drunk more beer in the last two days than I have in my entire life - in celebration) AND B) a separate preview of tomorrow's games. Tune in!
First things first: yesterday's review.
Group E: (Yesterday)
For Group E yesterday was an important day. It featured the Spain vs Serbia matchup (Teodosic killed Spain last Eurobasket with an 8m buzzer-beating dagger), a game that posed a test for Spain. There was also Germany vs Turkey, where Germany was playing for life and death, and France vs Lithuania, with the hosts hoping to bounce back from a dismal loss to Spain. The results?
- Spain 84 - 59 Serbia: Serbia was a letdown, or rather Spain was too much for the Serbians. In the third quarter, and already riding a 9-point lead, Spain embarked on a 14-0 run, and left Serbia in the dust. The Gasol brothers owned everyone in the paint, scoring 46 points by themselves and pulling 18 rebounds (half the points and rebounds of the spanish team). Navarro had a relatively quiet night - only needing to score 14 points, but also dissing 5 assists and racking up 3 steals. Serbia, on the other hand, had a disappointing night - Teodosic had 6 points and 6 assists, and the offensive load was carried by PFs Nenad Krstic and Dusco Savanovic - who scored combined less points than Pau Gasol's 26. All in all, Spain steamrolled yet another challenger, and it remains to be seen if France can seriously challenge Spain.
- Germany 73 - 67 Turkey: unexpected hero of the game was Heiko Schwethelm. The german-bred sharpshooter found his groove in the fourth quarter, providing clutch - and unexpected - scoring. The Turks, on the other side, showed little of this versatility in the fourth quarter, relying on Germany TOs and Omer Asik to stay in the game. Last game hero Preldzic blocked Schwethelm's 3-pointer and got fouled, made the FTs but on the next Turkey possession he split two free throws with a chance to tie the game again. Germany then inbounded to Nowitzki, who made four freebies in a row to give Germany breathing space and eventually the win. With this, Germany only needs to defeat Lithuania to advance, while the Turks need the Germans to lose and themselves to beat desperate Serbia as well.
- Lithuania 67 - 73 France: The hosts managed to keep Parker low for the first half, and with Gelabale out were within striking distance until 4 minutes in the last quarter. Then Nando De Colo showed why he is heralded as a promising player, exploding for 13 points a span of three minutes (21 total, with 4 rebounds and 5 steals), while recording steals and drawing fouls all over the court. France only had to sustain that lead, which they did effectively (Lithuania got within 4, but France responded). France still look like the only team ablee to defeat Spain in a straight matchup.
Group F: (Today)
Today's games will only influence the positioning of the teams - I cannot see Finland or Georgia advancing. Still, there is a mathematical chance that Finland can make it through, and Russia gets another serious test.
- Finland vs Georgia: (currently under way) Finland has a 10-point lead and remember: they have a gameplan, which Georgia seems to be entirely devoid of. The Finns know what they can do - shoot threes, run up and down and not play in the paint. They will double up big bodies in defense, and pressure on the perimeter. Georgia has no Pachulia, and the quality of the rest of the team cannot top the chemistry of the Finns - who are in for another round of beer (yay!). Final score is 73 - 87 for Finland.
- FYROM vs Slovenia: This figures to be a difficult game for Slovenia. Their morale definitely is down after a disappointing loss to Greece - while FYROM have already secured a spot in the next round. If Slovenia loses, then the game against Finland suddenly becomes a game with no tomorrow - and then follows a likely draw against Spain (hint: bad). The pressure is on Slovenia; they need to deliver now that the ball weighs more. They can still do it. Dragic can defend McCalebb, or lead him to the bigs. Then they should be able to play rational offense. It would be of great service if their threes go in today - that's certain. I think Slovenia can win this - if not, they will crumble against Finland as well. This is a do-or-die situation for Slovenia. I bet on do.
- Greece vs Russia: They were both considered powerhouses before the tournament, but things changed since then: Russia gained the support of Kirilenko after four years, while Greece lost an array of star players. Their matchup today will show whether Greece has enough to challenge for a place in the 8 best, and could prove that Russia has the guts to challenge the teams from the other group. I am biased, as far as this game is concerned - but it all depends on whether Greece can contain Kirilenko. The russian backcourt is as untrustworthy as ever, and if Greece can hold their ground inside, then they could pull an upset.
That's all for now, maybe later I'll upload a preview for tomorrow.