By: Nick Gibson / @euro_adventures
1. Lithuania (5), 68-75 W vs. Turkey – As long as their record remains unblemished, Lietuva will maintain that aura of unbeatability.
2. Spain (6), 86-69 W vs. Great Britain – This schedule hasn’t done Spain any favors, as they’ve successfully disposed of the three squads that won’t be joining them in the next round. Still, one can’t punish the Spaniards for taking care of business against lesser foes, especially a Great Britain team that is talented enough to hold Spain accountable for their mistakes, and did just that two summers ago.
3. France (9), 76-65 W vs. Germany – Condensed international tournaments put point guards under the microscope, and Tony Parker clearly relishes the attention. He finished with an easy 32 and the distinction of this tournament’s best player. Not point guard, but player.
4. Greece (7), 61-81 W Thursday vs. Finland – If Ioannis Boruousis isn’t the most efficient center in the world, he’s pretty damn close.
5. Serbia (4), 89-80 W vs. Israel -On yesterday’s podcast, we called out Nemanja Bjelica and Marko Keselj. One of you, we said, needs to snag that small forward role out of midair. Make it your own, and earn Dusan Ivkovic’s trust. Well, maybe Marko carries us around on his iPod. Five threes in seven tries made up his fifteen points, nine of which came in Serbia’s furious fourth quarter comeback. On a rare awful shooting day for Teodosic (0-7, 6 points), Marko was there to break Serbia’s fall.
6. Turkey (1), 68-75 L vs. Lithuania – If anyone’s aware of a home crowd’s ability to propel you to unimaginable heights, it’s the Twelve Giant Men of Turkey. Today, they sidestepped that buzz saw for 39:37 until Emir Preldzic’s foot got in the way, sending the ball into the back court and Turkey’s hopes into the blender.
7. Russia (12), 58-65 W Thursday vs. Georgia – Nineteen turnovers, 56% form the free throw line and uninspired offensive sets helped them walk away with a perfect record. They’re ugly, but they’ll make sure you’re uglier.
8. Bosnia and Herzegovina (15), 94-86 W Thursday vs. Montenegro – It’s common knowledge among Euroleague fans and coaches that Mirza Teletovic has the memory of a goldfish, and his performance against Montenegro was further proof. After a dreadful 2-11 against Greece which included 0-9 from deep, Mirza shrugged his shoulders and pounded home five threes as part of a 23-point explosion. This tournament is 19 days long, but it took just over 24 hours for us to traverse the expansive spectrum that is Mirza Teletovic.
9. Slovenia (14), 64-68 W vs. Ukraine – Goran Dragic fouling out in only 14 minutes made me frown today. Don’t do that to me, Goran. Don’t do that to your country. Time to start putting some opponents away, Slovenia. It’s not enough to just squeak by.
10. Germany (2), 76-65 L vs. France – Dirk sat on the bench with a towel hanging over his shoulders as Tony Parker put the game out of reach at the end of the third. Chris Kaman sat next to him, chatting up the guy next to him, laughing. All the while, the world wondered: what the hell?
11. Macedonia (13), 78-76 W Thursday vs. Croatia -I’m done doubting any team led by Vlado Ilievski and Bo McCalebb. Now if they could only figure out how to make Pero Antic less terrible…
12. Croatia (11), 78-76 L Thursday vs. Macedonia – Dontaye Draper passed it up. Luka Zoric declined, twice. Marko Popovic pumped before kicking it to the top of the key. I understand Bojan Bogdanovic is a terrific player. Your best, even. But Gene Hackman said it best in The Replacements: “Winners always want the ball when the game’s on the line.”
13. Georgia (3), 58-65 L Thursday vs. Russia – These two neighboring nations played like they hated only one thing more thane each other: watching the ball go through the net. The fact that Georgia kept it so close despite a 3-11 performance from Zaza is truly a testament to how disgustingly amateur this game looked.
14. Montenegro (8), 94-86 L Thursday vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina – Nikola Pekovic rebounded with a great performance, Vladimir Dasic posted his second double-double, and MNE had five men with 12+ in the scoring column and they out-rebounded Bosnia and Herzegovina by 10. Still, a baby’s bottom defense can whip those high points together, stick it in the oven and pull out a piping hot loss.
15. Italy (18), 62-71 W vs. Latvia – Gallinari played horribly. Gallinari, even more so. Together, they shot a rim-damaging 3-21 from the field for only 18 points. Doesn’t matter when Andrea Bargnani goes for 36, his highest ever total in an Italian jersey.
16. Poland (16), 73-81 W vs. Portugal – This is a win they needed, if only to bolster self esteem. Even when they’re playing well—which has only been for several isolated stretches these first three days—this team simply has no identity without Marcin Gortat. It’s a shame that a silly insurance issue is holding back a nation.
17. Bulgaria (21), 68-65 W Thursday vs. Belgium – We are Bulgaria. Hear us roar. And not go winless. Rest assured: this is the highest you’ll ever see Bulgaria on this list.
18. Latvia (19), 62-71 L vs. Italy – Just as Rihards Kuksiks signs on as a permanent cast member of the Janis Blums Show, the main character decides to take a night off.
19. Ukraine (17), 64-68 L vs. Slovenia – With a frontcourt of Oleksiy Pecherov, Serhiy Lischuk, Kyrylo Fesenko and Slava Kravtsov, you should be able to blame your losses on a backcourt lacking talent and experience. Instead, you walk on the floor and get out rebounded 39 to 23. Unacceptable, boys.
20. Israel (22), 89-80 L vs. Serbia – With a six point lead heading into the fourth quarter, Israel held all the cards. They could’ve salvaged their EuroBasket, garnered respect and staved off elimination with just ten minutes of good decisions and better defense. Yotam Halperin claimed that leadership role that should’ve been his days ago, and David Blu rescued them from disorganized possessions with his shooting (4-6 from three). Alas, Serbia is a more resilient team. Simply.
21. Great Britain (10), 86-69 L vs. Spain – Team GB might have two wins left in them, but they’re all out of hope. When they look back at their EuroBasket, they’ll recognize that they played their best ball in the first half of their first game in front of a rabid Lithuanian crowd. Lacking in talent, they fed off the atmosphere, and next summer those chants will have a British accent.
22. Portugal (23), 73-81 L vs. Poland – They had four guys in double figures in scoring, and a handful approaching triple figures in age.
23. Finland (20), 61-81 L Thursday vs. Greece – Going to halftime down nine to Greece is a death wish, especially if you plan on shooting 35% from the field. Petteri Koponen is officially the only reason I’ll tune in to Finland these next few days. Worth the click.
24. Belgium (24), 68-65 L Thursday vs. Bulgaria – It’s not a very fun brand of basketball to begin with, and the losing does little to help.