Lots of stuff to report since yesterday. We know the quarter-finalists, and all the teams that will participate in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament. We've also experienced the downfall of two traditional european powerhouses, and the survival of two others.
First, concerning the quarter-final games of yesterday:
France 74 - 68 Greece:
The best team the French have ever fielded in the last 11 years (at least) found itself against a team that has little resmblance with the team that beat them back in 2005, or with the team that competed in the last worlds. A young greek side completely outplayed the French in every tactical aspect of the game, playing amazing defense, controlling the boards and the tempo of the game, restraining Parker (for 3 quarters...), completely shutting off any inside game of the French and responding to every offensive adjustment. The risk of the low-score, closed game Greece wanted (and got) was the fact that it is in such situations that personal greatness can shape the result. Parker, De Colo and Batum scored 50 combined points for France, with De Colo keeping them alive during the first half and Parker - Batum winning the game in the last period. It was then that Greece was betrayed by their outside shooting (they went 3-21) and started missing FTs. The final score doesn't do justice to a determined Greece that played with cunning and determination, but eventually lost to the overwhelming talent difference.
Russia 77 - 67 Serbia:
(didn't watch the game) Apparently Serbia *again* showed their lack of motivation against Russia, who had a whopping 12 steals and 6 blocks in a tenacious defensive effort. Offensively, Serbia had to rely on Teodosic, who was turnover-prone. Kirilenko, on the other side, had another double-double, and delivered when his team needed him most. That's all, I didn't expect Serbia to win anyway.
Greece 87 - 77 Serbia:
Yesterday's losers squared off today. Greece was obviously motivated, jumped on Serbia early, clamped down on defense and played the rest of the game in stand-by mode, preserving a 20-point lead and letting it dwindle up to the 10 points of the final score. The best team won.
Spain vs FYROM:
no need to write anything here. The dream ends for FYROM, Spain gets a win. Can't say if it will be easy, but the talent difference is just immense.
France vs Russia:
France was entirely unconvincing yesterday, in contrast to Russia, which continue their solid play. I expect a physical game. If Russia can defend the perimeter and not allow France's guards to go berserk, they stand a very good chance of winning. If not, it will be personal greatness that defeats them, not teamwork. France still looks a bit like a patchwork.