Today is break day, for half the groups, so there's more time for every matchup. Plus I'm lazy, so I didn't write anything about the first two games that were played today.
Day 3 of the Eurobasket 2011, and Groups C and D have a day off. In Groups A and B the tournament goes on, and some interesting matches are being played.
- Spain 86 - 69 Great Britain: All the defending champs needed was one burst of energy to put he game out of reach for juggernaut Luol Deng and the british team. They got that in the third quarter, where they made a 16-piont lead out of a 6-point game, with Marc Gasol scoring 12 points in the quarter. Notable effort by Clark, who scored 14 with 12 rebounds. Spain was not under pressure, and so managed to overcome a terrible outing by Navarro (1-11 FG), behind 40 points by the Gasol brothers and Reyes.
- Portugal vs Poland: a dull game, up to now, where Poland strives to do the obvious, defeat Portugal and stay alive. Portugal, on the other hand, will try to steal one. EDIT: Poland's carelessness didn't reach Croatia levels. It was fortunate that Portugal ran out of steam - the rest was experience doing the talking. 73 - 81.
- Turkey vs Lithuania: Now, that's an interesting game. Turkey seems to be on a roll, but had no real challenge up to this point; the same goes for Lithuania. I'd say it's more of a strong friendly game for both teams, as none of them is going to lose the easy games (against the lower tier of competition both teams won't fail). This would also show what there's really to expect out of these teams (and I'm particularly curious about Turkey). Prediction: Lithuania wins. It's a hunch. I hope to see something out of the Lithuania backcourt. EDIT: They won (68 - 75), and their backcourt had a decent performance, but the game was close. With Turkey 5 down and 23'' to go, Preldzic commited a backcourt violation, Jasikevicius won (and calmly sank) 2 freebies and Lithuania won. Turkey got 20 points from Ilyasova though, and opposing teams should notice, as he was 8-15 from the field. I don't know what part of it he created for himself, or whether he just handled execution though.
- Serbia 89 - 80 Israel: The first game where Israel actually stood a chance. Yotam Halperin finally shined (at least a little) and Israel, after surrendering a fragile lead managed to come back within one, but Krstic responded with 4 unanswered points and Serbia held on for the win. Worth mentioning is also Savanovic, who carried Serbia through a long drought.
- Latvia vs Italy: Latvia is actually giving Italy the fits as I'm writing, leading by 2, while Italy is only getting reliable contribution from Andrea Bargnani. As I said so often, Italy needs all three NBAers to contribute simultaneously in order to be a fearsome group; with just one of them they're Great Britain, and with two they're Germany without Chris Kaman (yes, Nowitzki counts as two of them). Italy is shooting miserably, but FTs still hold them in the game. EDIT: And there you go, Bargnani had to prove me wrong. He compensated for his performance yesterday by scoring 36 points against a pesky Latvia side, that, frankly, played their hearts out again. Italy won despite Belinelli's and Gallinari's dreadful performance (against Latvia, for God's sake, it's not as though they're playing against an All-Star team), getting valuable scoring from players noone thought existed, I mean eight, e-i-g-h-t different players scored for Italy (got to be a milestone)! A pity that Latvia didn't win, everybody likes them.
- Germany vs France: A game to watch. Is new Germany finally ready for a breakthrough? Is France coming together as a team? Much will depend on the Nowitzki - Marion matchup, and on how Germany's "role" players can really contribute. Can Heiko Schaffartzik carry Germany against Parker? And how will Kaman fare against much-celebrated Joakim Noah? Is Robin Benzing the next Nowitzki, as many claim (not yet, I can tell as much, but he is a factor to be reckoned with). Anyway, I hope this becomes as interesting match, just as it promises to. EDIT: Tony Parker (in french it is pronounced Tóny Parkér, did you know? Well, me neither, but the French commentator kept calling him thus) had a hell of a game (again), and France had enough big bodies to rotate on Nowitzki. Three out of four guys ended up with four fouls (FIBA regulations: foul out is with the fifth), but it didn't matter, as Nowitzki was pestered in offense and afraid of contact on defense. With Parker scoring at will and toying with the German defense, this was over midway through the third, when Germany failed to stay close. France wins 76 - 65.