EuroBasket 2015, Last 16 lineup complete

EuroBasket 2015The group phase at EuroBasket 2015 has been completed with a full schedule of contests on Thursday evening, with the nations now progressing to the Last 16 locked.

France, Israel, Poland, and Finland completed the picture in Group A.
Serbia, Turkey, Spain, and Italy progressed from Group B
Greece, Slovenia, Croatia, and Georgia all punched their tickets in Group C.
Lithuania, Latvia, Belgium, and the Czech Republic managed to leave a tight Group D.

Group A
Both Poland and Finland progressed to the Last 16 and this contest served as a decider for third place in Group A, which the Polish ultimately claimed with a 78-65 victory. Through halftime the teams were tight, with the score reading 41-42 in favour of Poland, while in the third stanza a 7-0 run was enough to put the Poles ahead for good. Poland’s bench stepped up during the contest and helped the teams amass 21 from 38 attempts from two point distance.

Bosnia and Herzegovina met Russia in what turned out to be a dead rubber game, although the Russians did pick up their first win of the EuroBasket 2015 with a 61-81 success. Russia responded from a losing 21-7 deficit to make the game locked through halftime, with the score at 31 apiece. In the second half the Russians nailed 50 points and kept the Bosnians to 30 to claim the victory on the back of 50% shooting from downtown (12 triples).

France put away Israel 61-86 to stay perfect in the tournament so far and the country remains firmly on course to defend its crown, while Israel also moves to the next stage. Les Bleus started hot and after ten minutes held a double digit led, 10-22, and from there the champs never looked back. The winners shot 52% from the 2 point distance and grabbed 46 rebounds compared to Israel’s 29.

Group B
Serbia broke a century of points on the way to crushing Italy 101-82 to secure top spot in Group B with an unbeaten 5-0 record. The Azzurri also made it through to the EuroBasket 2015 Last 16 despite the loss here. Serbia led throughout and finally drained from beyond the arc in the third to extend to double digits for the last time, with Italy never able to recover. Is Serbia the best attacking team so far? Maybe, 29 assists and 63% shooting from two point distance meant this was another masterful offensive display.

Spain edged Germany 76-77 to squeeze into the next round in front of 13,000 fans in Berlin, with those fans seeing the host’s crash out of the competition. Spain had worked to a 12 point lead at the end of the third act (48-60), but Germany with the crowd behind the players rallied in the fourth and made it a one point game with nine seconds left. A Spanish free throw left Germany needing a bucket to tie, but the hosts could only manage a single free throw and missed out.

Turkey mobbed Iceland 111-102 in the highest scoring game of the tournament so far, and in success the Turks cemented second place in the Group B standings. Overtime was needed to do it though as both teams were hot in offence throughout. Turkey had opened a 74-67 through thirty minutes, but 24 points in Q4 was enough for Iceland to tie the contest 91-91 through regulation play. In the added stanza Turkey found its touch again and cruised to an overtime win.

Group C
Slovenia took out Macedonia 62-51 to claim third place in Group C and knock their opponents out. While Macedonia never really fell out of contention, Slovenia opened the scoring after the first tip off and held the lead for the rest of the game. The Slovenians were simply more efficient in the mix, claiming 40 points in the paint compared to just 20 points from Macedonia.

Georgia has left it late, but a 71-58 victory over hosts Croatia in Zagreb was enough for the country to make the next round in fourth place. Georgia has won its last two games to secure passage at the expence of the Netherlands. Croatia actually held a 51-49 lead in the fourth quarter, but the unfancied Georgians found an extra gear and used an 18-0 run to spark celebrations on the hardwood. The visitors were deadly on the break, using 17 turnovers to score 22 fast run points.

Greece shut down the Netherlands to ease through Group C in first place and an unblemished record, while the unlucky Dutch (making a first EuroBasket appearance in almost four decades) left the competition. Despite losing the first quarter 17-19, Greece stayed consistent and repeated the 17 points for a 34-31 lead at halftime. An 18-15 winning third frame extended the Greek lead to 52-46 at the final split, but the Dutch hit back in the fourth only to fall just short.

Group D
Ukraine left the competition after Belgium battled back from an indifferent start to win 79-71 and progress to the next round. Belgium had a pretty torrid first half and trailed by 14 points at one stage, but before the midway buzzer the team perked up. In the second half a different Belgium hit the court is seemed as a 44 point haul was enough to see off the Ukraine fight. The bench played a big part in Belgium’s rejuvenation as they came on for 36 points.

A Baltic derby saw hosts Latvia grab a 75-64 win over Estonia in Riga, with the win enough to send Latvia through and Estonia goes home. However, the Estonians were red hot in the first half and opened the contest with an 11-0 run before going on to lead 33-44 through the long break. Latvia emerged for the third act in better form and a massive 22-5 run in the third got the hosts right back into the game, before they closed the game out in the fourth.

Lithuania’s passage to the next round has not been smooth, but the country ended the group phase on a high with an 81-85 win over the Czech Republic. The teams had shut each other down through regular time and had traded buckets and the lead throughout. However, in the added overtime frame Lithuania had the legs to win the game and top Group D.

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