By: Sam Meyerkopf / @Euro_Adventures
Sergey Monya banked in a prayer to push Russia past Macedonia and just like that, the second round of EuroBasket came to a close. Now, with the quarterfinal match ups locked in we can take a look at them game by game. It’s single elimination from here on out, so have your full court heaves handy.
Macedonia vs. Lithuania
Really disappointing it had to turn out like this. Macedonia has been the best story of this tournament so far and as long as you’re not on the other bench, you’re probably rooting for the gold and red. That will not be the case Wednesday night, though,when Kaunas chant so loudly you might be fluent in Lithuanian by night’s end.
Sarunas Jasikevicius has saved up that old man energy and as we saw against Germany, he’s ready for war. Bo McCalebb can’t get rattled by the home crowd and needs to have a big offensive game for Macedonia to stay in it. Macedonia hasn’t been out of a game yet, so I this might just be the game of the tournament. My legs are shaking I’m so excited.
Spain vs. Slovenia
Spain has scored over 75 every game except for one. Slovenia has scored under 75 every game except for one. Either Slovenia has to put the clamps down on D or Spain needs to start missing a lot more shots. Unless Slovenia is allowed to go six-on-five, I’m really not sure how they could win this game. They barely snuck by Finland to advance to the quarterfinals and they didn’t look impressive at all in the second round. Let me backtrack: they barely snuck by Finland to advance to the quarterfinals. Throw me a bench lineup of Rubio-Llull-San Emeterio-Claver-Ibaka for most of the game and I still might lean towards the Spaniards.
France vs. Greece
Greece has gotten this far with a combination of good coaching, using a system everyone buys into, and solid play from Greek veterans Antonis Fotsis, Nikos Zisis and Ioannis Bourousis. Advancing any further really would require Dimitris Diamintidis or Vassilis Spanoulis appearing from the Heavens to lead Hellas against France. Neither Zisis nor Nick Calathes will be able to stay in front of Tony Parker and if France gets a lead, Greece will have a very hard time coming back.
Throwing the white flag up against Spain and then getting shellacked in the second half was not the best way to keep their momentum going, but France can still out-offense Greece if they want to. If Greece can slow the game down to a pace a snail would deem really slow then they might have a chance for the upset. With Parker playing like he got new shoes with little jet packs snapped in, Noah finally feeling comfortable in the post and a plethora of wing players who can answer the scoring call on any given night, I find it tough to see that happening.
Russia vs. Serbia
Russia has only pushed to the limit twice: once against Slovenia and then again today against Macedonia. Both times, right-wing jumpers from Sergey Monya came to the rescue to preserve their unblemished record. Serbia had a disappointing second round, barely squeaking into the fourth and final slot, and the offense really hasn’t been the same since that one-point loss to France.
Where Russia is weaker (guard play and back to the basket scorers) Serbia is strong, while Russia has an army of wing players that could cause match up problems for Serbia. Russia has allowed only one team (Bulgaria, believe it or not) to put up over 70 points on them, meaning the game may well rest on the playmaking ability of the (more than likely) very hairy shoulders of Milos Teodosic. Teodosic needs to get open looks for Marko Keselj, find Nenad Krstic for easy buckets, get Milan Macvan some post up opportunities, make sure Dusko Savanovic gets touches from 10-15 feet and hit some dagger threes. A really scary thought for Serbia: what if Russia says screw it and puts Kirilenko on Teodosic?
I didn’t mean to frighten you like that Milos. Sorry.