EuroBasket 2009 — Day 2

Crazy, crazy day. Absolutely crazy.

It started with a major upset: Germany beating Russia. I told you to keep an eye out for this match yesterday because Germany did look dangerous – and they did not disappoint. At the same time, Macedonia was beating Israel 79-82 in what became Macedonia’s first win ever in the EuroBasket; Israel is now out of the competition with 2 defeats.

Then, Lithuania was beaten for the second day in a row by an amazing Polish team which showed that they really meant business. And in the end, business means +11 for the home team, putting Lithuania in a dangerous position: they must win tomorrow’s match against Bulgaria if they want to go through. Slovenia disposed of Serbia easily enough, never really threatened. The final result is 80–69, and Slovenia secured the top spot of Group C.

France probably thought it would be an easy task against Latvia, but it was far far from easy. Extremely perturbed by the zone defence of the Latvian team, the French started very slowly, but turned ahead at the end of qtr1. The second quarter was tough, with the first point scored after nearly 5 min for Latvia, who finished the quarter on a stunning 13–3. Fouls were raining on the French players, and the prospect of the second half was uncertain. But like yesterday, the French visibly upped their defence agressivity in the 3rd quarter, and the points started to come, notably from 3 pointers by Diaw and De Colo, and the unstoppable Tony Parker, who made a real show in the second half. He was absolutely everywhere: jump shots, penetrating and provoking fouls, free throws. It is hard to deny that France won mostly thanks to him. Latvia collapsed in the 4th quarter, and France finally won 51–60, and is now qualified for the next round. Meanwhile, Greece won against Croatia, 76–68 and is now assured to get the top spot in Group A.

Finally, it could have been an incredible upset: despite losing 84–76 to Spain, Great Britain have made a fantastic match, and only lost on silly turnovers, missed free throws, and lack of experience. Their 3-point scoring was quite impressive, and GB were leading +4 with 5 min to go against the World Champion. They were some very worried looks in the staff and on the pitch, whereas the GB fans were absolutely thrilled. Good stuff. It is however extremely very worrying for Spain who came very close to elimination tonight. In the meantime, Turkey carried out their good tournament with a 66–94 destruction of Bulgaria. Turkey will finish first of Group D.

Match to look out for tomorrow:

  • Macedonia–Croatia: game for the second spot in Group A
  • Russia–France: the clash in Group B. France have a lot to prove, and Russia will not want to lose a second day in a row. I don’t see France winning if they play like today, though.
  • Spain–Slovenia: Spain really have to wake up; and Slovenia will want to prove they are the leaders of this group C. I predict a major bollocking in the changing room for the Spaniards, and a visible recovery on the pitch. It should be good.
  • Lithuania–Bulgaria: I cannot possibly imagine Lithuania losing this one, but given the matches so far, you never know…