EuroBasket 2013 has put it’s first full day of the Round 2 in the books and to say it was an interesting day would be a gross understatement. With the quality of competition that the remaining 12 teams are capable of bringing on any given day it’s no surprise that there were surprises, but the level of surprises is a surprise. It’s OK if that didn’t make much sense, neither did the results of Day 1…
In Group E, played on Wednesday, right off the bat we had Latvia pound the Ukranians by 34, 85:51. This is the same team from Ukraine that average 75.6 points in five Round 1 games. At the end of Day one Lithuania defeated the squad from France, who had run off four straight in big fashion and a Lithuanian club that qualified for the second round by the smallest of margins. In Group F Greece defeated Spain and Slovenia stopped the Italian winning streak with a 7-point win.
It’s been hyped for months, and the boys are living up to it… As important, the fans in Slovenia are coming out in record numbers to support the competition and broke the preliminary round attendance record for any EuroBasket competition by nearly 20,000, with 155,336 in attendance (average of 2,588 per game) for the 60 games in Round 1.
Day 2 starts Friday with Group E contests consisting of Lithuania facing Belgium in the first game, Ukraine meeting Serbia, then France squaring off against Latvia in the nightcap.
Croatia – Finland, 88:63
Croatia moved into a three-way tie for the top spot in Group F with a 25-point win over Finland on Thursday. With Italy losing their first contest of EuroBasket 2013 to Slovenia, the three clubs are now even at 2-1 with the rest of the six teams sitting at 1-2. Croatia will next match up against Italy on Saturday, while Finland will meet Spain.
The first quarter was close, until Croatia tallied six in a 32 second span at the end to come out of the first 10 with a 17:11 advantage. From there it was all Croatia as they added 13 to the total in the second to head into the break up 39:20 and then 63:38 after three. The clubs played even hoops in the fourth, both putting up 25.
Damjan Rudez was game-high for Croatia with 17 points, and Bojan Bogdanovic added 15. Shawn Huff scored 10 to lead Finland.
Greece – Spain, 79:75
Coming into Round 2 the Greek contingent were at a definite disadvantage having lost their last to matching in Round 1, which just happened to have been against future fellow Group F competitors, Italy and Finland. Spain came in 1-1, having split their Round 1 matches with Slovenia and Croatia, and now fall to 1-2 with games against Finland and Italy remaining. The two-time defending champions have their work cut out for themselves to just qualify for the quarterfinals at this point.
The Spanish side jumped out to an early lead slowly building a 10-point margin late in the first frame. As the second quarter started with Spain up 26:16, Greece connected on the first four points on a Kostas Sloukas free throw and then a triple by Michail Bramos. Greece covered the difference by the 7:24 mark, but more importantly they went on an 11:0 scoring run that brought them from five down to up six, 40:34 with just over a minute to play in the half. Two of the Spain big names knocked down deuces to close the gap before they headed in for the mid-game intermission as Rudy Fernandez and Ricky Rubio connected on a layup and a jumper, respectively, within the final 30 seconds. At the end of a 25:12 quarter in favor of Greece, the score stood at 41:38 after the first 20.
Fernadez connected on a three-point play to open scoring in the third and give Spain the lead again, then he hit a three-ball to put his club up three, 46:43, with 4:35 to play in the frame. Greece knotted the score at 46, but from there Spain’s big man, Marc Gasol, put the team on his shoulders and carried them for a bit, connecting on three consecutive trips down the court with two lay-ups and a triple. Shortly after he drew an unsportsmanlike foul from Vassilis Kavvada, connected on both free throws and finished the run with a dunk that put an exclamation point on his 12-point string. He also gave them a seven-point lead, 57:50, that dropped to five after Sloukas knocked down a pair of singles to close out the scoring in the period at 57:52.
Fernandez again opened scoring in the new stanza, this time hitting a three-pointer at the 33 second mark, putting Spain up eight, 60:52. Reigning Euroleague MVP, Vassilis Spanoulis sliced the cords from long-range and then came inside shortly after for a lay-up to give Greece the lead back with just under six minutes to play. Sergio Rodriguez hit a triple to put Spain up 64:62, but the pair of singles Sloukas hit 30 seconds later to knot the score at 64 would be the start of a 10:2 run the Greek squad would put together that would be too much for Spain to counter. Gasol hit a pair of free throws to pull Spain to within four, 72:68, but a Bramos long-ball with a minute to play was the final blow as Spanoulis went four of four down the stretch to put Spain away. Rubio finished the scoring with two charity tosses with six seconds to play, cutting the Greece lead to four, 79:75.
Spanoulis was team-high for Greece and tied for game-high with Gasol and Fernandez with 20 each for Spain.
Slovenia – Italy, 84:77
The venue for Rounds 2 and beyond changed from Tivoli Hall in Ljubljana, which is an older area capable of holding 5,500, to the newly built Stozice Arena (opened in 2010), with the capacity of 12,500, also in Ljubljana. They nearly filled the house for this big game for both club, with an estimated 10,000 fans providing huge boost for the local. The Slovenians didn’t disappoint as they knocked Italy off the perch as the only undefeated team remaining with an 84:77 victory that knots up the top spot in the group between three teams.
The difference in the contest was the nine-points Slovenia put up in the second to take a 45:39 lead into the halftime break.
Italy pulled even at 48, but Slovenia ran off 10 unanswered to get up 58:48. Italy outscored their hosts 6:2 through the rest of the frame to get back to down six, 60:54.
The locals hit the first four of the fourth to push their lead back to 10, 64:54. For the better part of the fourth the lead stayed above six, but with 2:12 remaining, Italy cut the gap to three, 75:72 on a pair of Pietro Aradori singles. Zoran Dragic his two of his 15 for Slovenia to counter, then another two shortly after, then his brother Goran took over and sank a layup and knocked down a long-ball to put the hosts up nine and seal the deal.
Doran Dragic was game-high for Slovenia with 22, while brother Zoran tallied a 15P/11R double-double. Alessandro Gentile scored 20 for Italy, while Luigi Datome added 16.
EuroBasket Group F
Round 2 Match List[matches league_id=36 group=F template=summary dateformat=”M. j, Y”]
Standings[standings league_id=36 group=F show_website=false template=nolink]