The EuroBasket 2015 tournament tipped off in France, Germany, Croatia, and Latvia on Saturday and started with plenty of excitement and close fought battles. All the host nations picked up victories in front of their home fans, while there were plenty of ups and downs through groups A to D.
Poland vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina, 68-64
A nervy close to this contest in Montpellier has the Polish sweating on the win, but ultimately the team held on to open its EuroBasket 2015 tournament with success. The Poles were cruising 51-34 midway through the third quarter, but a tactical change to try and kill the game back fired as the Bosnians struck back with a 4-17 run. The fourth act was nervy for Poland as the leaders failed to hit from the field in the final eight minutes of the game. However, the players held their nerve and held on for the win.
Israel vs. Russia, 76-73
Israel edged Russia as the two teams contested on the opening day in Group A. A sloppy first half for Israel allowed Russia to control the game for long period, especially in defense, and going into halftime the Russians led 27-39 and looked to be cruising. The Israeli contingent came out for the third with renewed focus and drained 17 points without reply during the frame to lead 59-49. Russia recovered from a six minute drought and picked up their percentages in the paint again (which had fallen from 60% to 17% in the third act) and made it close, although Israel snatched the victory.
France vs. Finland, 97-87
Reigning champions France needed an added period to see off a dogged and determined Finland in front of a packed 10,000 strong crowd in Montpellier. France had won the first half 45-37 and after sharing the third period 23-23 looked to be on course for an opening win. However, Finland hit a new level in the fourth with a big 13-21 run to jangle French nerves and tie the contest 81-81 through regulation. Les Bleus regrouped for the overtime period and used a 7-0 run to win the added frame 16-6 to claim success.
Germany vs. Iceland, 71-65
Making their first appearance at a EuroBasket, Iceland gave Germany a hard time on Saturday but ultimately fell to defeat on Day 1. Germany scored from the tip-off and never let go of that advantage, using a 15 point run to claim a 41-26 lead through halftime. Iceland never gave up and a 7-0 run in the third made it closer at 48-41, but Germany went up another gear and an 11-0 run to close the third stanza made it 59-41. Once again Iceland fought back, but Germany had the skill to close out the game late on.
Italy vs. Turkey, 87-89
After mounting a spirited comeback, Italy finally slipped to Turkey in what proved to be a high octane encounter on the hardwood in Berlin. The Turks had squandered a 16-point lead built over the game and were on the brink of losing in the closing seconds. Danilo Gallinari had drained 14 out of 14 for Italy at the charity strip and could have tied the game 88-88 by hitting 100% again. However, he missed his second to keep Turkey in front (87-88) and a free throw for the Turkish team ended the contest with six seconds left.
Spain vs. Serbia, 70-80
Serbia looked good in defeating a Spain team expected to go deep into the tournament. Of course, the Serbians can never be discounted either and here they dealt with a late surge from the Spanish to close out an opening day victory. Serbia recovered from a 21-11 losing first quarter to lead comfortable through thirty minutes, the board reading 52-62. However Pau Gasol poured in 8 points for Spain in the fourth to make it a one point game 70-71, but the Spanish did not net again as Serbia hit 9 points without replay to end the contest.
Georgia vs. Holland, 72-73
The Netherlands grabbed a win on their return to a EuroBasket competition for the first time in 26 years. However, it was a tight clash. The teams traded buckets to draw 17-17 in the first period, but the Dutch used a big 9-19 push in the second to lead 26-36 through the long break. A locked third act ended 22 apiece, before Georgia’s 24-15 run in the fourth had the crowd in Zagreb on their feet, but the comeback ultimately feel a point short and Holland took the spoils.
Macedonia vs. Greece, 65-85
Greece brushed aside Macedonia to get its tournament off to the perfect start. The Greek team looked balanced throughout and used the opening half hour building a foundation for success, claiming a 50-55 lead heading into the final quarter. A 2-7 run in the final stanza set Greece up for a huge 15-26 run that put plenty of daylight between the teams. The Greek claimed 46 points in the paint and will be looking to maintain that kind of consistency in the key.
Croatia vs. Slovenia, 80-73
In front of 11,730 spectators in Zagreb, Croatia used home court advantage to see off a tricky Slovenian team. The hosts were shocked in the first frame as Slovenia claimed a 17-23 lead after ten minutes, but the Croats quickly hit back with a huge 27-15 winning second period. A 21-16 run in the third act put Croatia up by 11 points, the score sitting on 65-54. Slovenia made it closer than the game suggested it should be by winning the fourth stanza, but Croatia had enough points on the board to see out the win.
Czech Republic vs. Estonia, 80-57
The Czech Republic put Estonia to the sword to open its 2015 EuroBasket tournament. The writing was on the wall early on as the Czech’s took the lead and never looked back, taking an 18-9 lead into the second quarter. The contest was all but ended in the second period with a 25-15 run in the second and a 21-11 third frame, before Estonia managed to win the fourth frame to restore some pride. Siim-Sander Vene will be important for Estonia moving forward and grabbed a double-double of 18 points and 13 rebounds.
Belgium vs. Latvia, 67-78
Latvia managed to put away Belgium in Riga as the co-host nation opened its tournament with victory. The teams were close through the long break, trading the first and second quarters for Latvia to lead 38-40 heading into the locker room. Belgium snatched the lead at the final split with a 14-11 run that made it 52-50, but Latvia found the spirit from the fans to surge in the fourth period, using a massive 27 point haul to end Belgium’s hopes.
Lithuania vs. Ukraine, 69-68
Lithuania grabbed a win over Ukraine in one of the closest games of the opening day in the European Championship this year. A 19-12 run in the first frame handed Lithuania and early lead through the first quarter, while the advantage was consolidated with a 14-14 shared second frame. Ukraine made it extremely worrisome for the Lithuanians in the second half by winning the third period 17-19 and the fourth quarter 19-23. However, it was not enough to turn the contest around and with the game.