The EuroBasket 2015 tournament is down to eight teams and as the herd is thinned, the competition becomes stiffer and the stakes even higher. As the say the creme has truly risen to the top. The best of the best of Europe’s basketball elite have come this far and eight nations have their eyes and hearts set on the gold.
Four teams are set to clash tonight and half of the semifinal participants will be decided. The first game on tap is a definite must-watch rumble. Spain and Greece will face off in what should be one exciting encounter. Spain came into the tournament as one of the heavy favorites, but the gents in blue and white have been impressive so far and have emerged as a dark horse to win. A key deciding factor for Spain will be the health of their stars Rudy Fernandez and Pau Gasol, who are both not 100%. Gasol has been tearing it up in the tournament so far as the top scorer with 23.0 points per game. If he should miss any time, there will be a big scoring void left in his absence. Fernandez is one Spain’s top three-point shooters and his ability to spread the defense has been important for the Spanish squad.
Greece’s success has hinged on veteran guard, Vassilis Spanoulis. Their offense flows through him and his performance from game to game generally dictates its outcome. His match-up against Spain’s Sergio Rodriguez will be a duel to keep an eye on.
Despite both teams being good on offense, this game will be decided on the defensive end. Whichever team is able to limit its turnovers and is able to control the pace will come out ahead.
France and Latvia will take to the hardwood floor next. Despite Latvia’s success, this should be the end of the road for them. France are the heavy favorites to move on after this game. Their running game is the more consistent strategy compared to Latvia’s streaky outside shooting. As long as Tony Parker and company are able to step up their perimeter defense, they should have a comfortable road to the semis.
Tomorrow, Serbia and the Czech Republic will settle which team will advance to the Final Four, while Italy will face Lithuania in the second game of the day.
The first game will showcase an interesting match-up between two talented point guards, Serbia’s Milos Teodosic and Czech Republic’s Tomas Satoransky. Tomas is the tournament leader in assists at eight per game, while Teodosic is second with 7.3 apg. All things being equal, Teodosic should have a slight edge. The game should be decided by the team that gets to dominate the paint. Jan Vesely has been doing some work for the Czech Republic all throughout the competition and should keep Serbia’s frontcourt busy on defense. Serbia’s Miroslav Raduljica has always been known to be a hard worker and should be up to the task.
The undefeated Serbian squad is expected to take this one, but the surprising success of the Czech Republic is no fluke and you can expect them to make this an exciting and competitive game.
Last but not the least, is the game between Italy and Lithuania. The mean green machine has shown some inconsistency at some spots in the competition and have had to dig deep for some of their harder earned wins. Lithuania and their big men are expected to control the shaded area, but Italy will likely have the advantage in the three-point shooting. Alessandro Gentile and Danilo Gallinari will be the X-factor players for Italy. For Lithunia’s part, their key to success will be their ability to take care of the ball and limit their turnovers.