By: Nick Gibson / @euro_adventures
1. Turkey (–), 79-56 W vs. Portugal – One of the few teams who completed their mission today: play awful team, bury awful team. Any worries over inconsistencies in exhibition are stowed for the moment. And Enes Kanter can thrive against real people, after all. Which is good.
2. Germany (–), 91-64 W vs. Israel – Dirk and Kaveman are the best pair of bigs this tourney has to offer, even if if Dirk’s wearing the pants in that relationship. But how about Robin Benzing coming through with his 12 from that decimated wing slot? That’s the sort of thing that could elevate Germany to medal contention. A little more ball movement is all I’d ask of Coach Bauermann, but with a couple of attractive black holes in the post, that’s an unrealistic request.
3. Georgia (–), 59-81 W vs. Belgium – In a Group D that figures to have a tight race for the third and final spot, Zaza and Co. came out and set themselves with not only a win, but a 22-point cushion in the all important margin column. Pachulia’s day ended up perfectly from a coaching perspective, as the huge lead sent him to the sidelines after just 21 minutes (16 points) to rest up for a long tournament. Meanwhile, Viktor Sanikidze got whatever he wanted inside, finishing with 13 and 11.
4. Serbia (–), 80-68 W vs. Italy – Serbia is having trouble replacing Novica Velickovic. Marko Keselj and Nemanja Bjelica are capable, sure. But that intensity, that leadership, that energy just cannot be replaced by any one player or even two. But a coach—a living legend who breathes fire—can make his men do anything. Give me Ivkovic and I’ll take my chances.
5. Lithuania (–), 80-69 W vs. Great Britain – My Paulius Jankunas-for-MVP pick is looking pretty rad, huh? Three fouls before you even noticed the big guy was out there, but it really didn’t matter. Ksistof Lavrinovic reminded us why he’s the better twin brother and the other members of the cavalry stepped up as well. Kaukenas and Jasikevicius partied like it was 2003 and Martynas Pocius answered Luol Deng’s first quarter charge with a big jam and a second quarter flurry of his own. The hometown boys have something to feel good about.
6. Spain (–), 83-78 W vs. Poland: This is classic Spain. Get out to an early lead, puff their chests out, then slowly deflate until their spines are pressed against the wallpaper. I’ll put them this high on the strength of that first half dominance, but their point guard play should probably sink them even lower: Calderon, Rubio and Sada combined for zero points on 0/7 shooting and just five assists. The Brothers Gasol went off for 45 and Navarro had 23, but that’s expected. The supporting cast, who would star as individuals on other teams, need to find their roles. Quickly.
7. Greece (–), 76-67 W vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina – Absences aplenty, but it’s the same old Greece. Drive, kick, rotate, repeat. They wear you down, and Bosnia and Herzegovina simply couldn’t last. And Calathes and Zisis looked comfortable out there leading the pack. Not Diamantidis-and-Papaloukas comfortable, but who are we kidding?
8. Montenegro (–), 70-65 OT W vs. Macedonia – Vladimir Dasic was the belle of the ball with his 20 points and 16 boards, and when Pekovic and Cook start clicking (which they will), Montenegro will be in business.
9. France (–), 89-78 W vs. Latvia – Tony Parker’s 31 were somehow overshadowed by a man named Janis, but TP had something Blums would kill for: teammates who held up their end of the bargain. Gelabale, Batum, Noah and Diaw all joined Parker in double figures.
10. Great Britain (–), 80-69 L vs. Lithuania – What’d you expect? A win? At Lithuania’s first home game of EuroBasket? Wasn’t going to happen. Chris Finch, Luol Deng and Joel Freeland were powerless against those circumstances, and the way they stuck it out and kept it competitive showed me something. But it doesn’t get any easier from here, and moral victories are just fancy losses.
11. Croatia (–), 84-79 W vs. Finland – Has everybody met Bojan Bogdanovic yet? Well, if you haven’t, then get acquainted. He dropped 27 today and frankly, is about 80% of the reason why Finland couldn’t pull this one off. If you were wondering, Ante Tomic is the other fifth.
12. Russia (–), 73-64 W vs. Ukraine – The single assist registered by Anton Ponkrashov might be the most deflating statistic of the day.
13. Macedonia (–), 70-65 OT L vs. Montenegro – It’s too bad that the hardest played game of the day had to make a loser out of anyone. Hey, Pero Antic: maybe don’t go 5/19 tomorrow?
14. Slovenia (–), 67-59 W vs. Bulgaria – The Goran+Zoran starship is ready for liftoff. Twenty-five points between the family members to go along with a healthy 18 for Erazem Lorbek and a healthy 14 (minutes) for Matjaz Smodis. Matjaz didn’t score, but it’s encouraging to see the old guy back out there. Still, Goran needs to come out of the gates ready to lead. There’s not enough pop left on the roster for him to wade in the shallow end for the first half. Dive in, Goran. The water’s fine.
15. Bosnia and Herzegovina (–), 76-67 L vs. Greece – Even with Vladimir Dasic’s exploits, Janis Blum’s brilliance and a collection of other huge opening day performances, few things surprised me as much as 22-year-old Elmedin Kikanovic getitng 15 on 6/9 shooting. If the guys around him can produce how they’re supposed to—mainly Mirza Teletovic and Henry Domercant—Bosnia and Herzegovina just might make it out of this group alive.
16. Poland (–), 83-78 L vs. Spain – Thomas Kelati has to be applauded for his effort (18 points and 7 assists), their fourth quarter comeback efforts as well. Still, my mind can’t shake loose those horrible images from the first half. Build on the finish and move forward, Poland.
17. Ukraine (–), 73-64 L vs. Russia – Even down three in the fourth, Ukraine’s demeanor was best suited for a shoot around. If you can’t get motivated for EuroBasket, what does that say?
18. Italy (–), 80-68 L vs. Serbia – First an inspiring first half spirals out of control in the second, now Dnailo Gallinari is getting an MRI. Perfect.
19. Latvia (–), 89-78 L vs. France – Janis Blums. Say it with me, now: Janis. Blums.
20. Finland (–), 84-79 L vs. Croatia – If I were trading stocks on Ball Street, I would buy several hundred shares of Petteri Koponen and Sasu Salin. Ball Street. Ha.
21. Bulgaria (–), 67-59 L vs. Slovenia – Earl Rowland got his 20. That clearly won’t be enough.
22. Israel (–), 91-64 L vs. Germany – Have a few seasons on Olympaicos’ bench extracted the Mojo from Yotam Halperin?
23. Portugal (–), 79-56 L vs. Turkey – I guess if Joro Santos had shot better than 2/12 from the field, they might have lost by fewer than 23 points? I don’t know. Grasping for any shadow of analysis right now. Not working out so well, mainly because Turkey massacred them.
24. Belgium (–), 59-81 L vs. Georgia – Suffering a 22-point loss to a middling team in the tournament’s worst group. Not how they wanted to tip things off.