EuroBasket 2007, Day 2: September 4, 2007
by: Javier Gancedo, Euroleague.net
September 4, 2007
J.R. Holden - (FIBA Europe/Castoria/A.Vlachos) All the favorites lived up to the expectations on the second day of EuroBasket 2007 in Spain. Russia and Greece are unbeaten in Group A. Russia overwhelmed Israel 90-56 behind 18 points from J.R. Holden of CSKA Moscow while Greece needed overtime to edge Serbia 68-67. Demos Dikoudis of Panathinaikos had 7 of his 20 points in overtime, while Milan Gurovic of Prokom banked in a 10-meter triple to take the game to the extra period. In Group B, Croatia beat Portugal 90-68 behind a balanced offense in which Marko Popovic of Zalgiris had 14 points. Spain had it tough to beat Latvia 93-77. Lithuania confirmed its strong form in Group C by thrashing the Czech Republic 95-75 in Palma de Mallorca behind 22 points from Ksystof Lavrinovic of Montepaschi. Germany downed Turkey 79-49 and also improved to 2-0. France beat Italy 69-62 in Alicante behind 36 points from Tony Parker, while Slovenia downed Poland 70-52. Both teams are unbeaten in Group D. The group stage comes to an end Wednesday with big showdowns including Lithuania vs. Germany, Spain vs. Croatia, France vs. Slovenia and Greece vs. Russia.

Group A
Theodoros Papaloukas - (FIBA Europe/Castoria/A.Vlachos)Russia manhandled Israel 90-56 to improve to 2-0 and secure a berth in the next round in Group A's early game in Granada. Holden led Russia with 18 points and Andrei Kirilenko came through with 17 points, 13 rebounds and 5 assists in a game in which all but one Russian player scored. Lior Eliyahu of Maccabi came off the bench for 17 and Halperin added 14 for Israel. Russia was in control from the very beginning and never trailed, though Yotam Halperin of Maccabi Elite and former Euroleague champ Yaniv Green kept Israel within 17-15 after 10 minutes. Holden and Sergey Monya of Dynamo Moscow got the Russian offense going in the second period and midway through the quarter, a Kirilenko slam put Russia up by double figures. The advantage grew to 40-28 at halftime and Alexey Savrasenko threw down two dunks during a 12-0 run early in the third as Team Russia took control for good. Russia made 45.5% of its threes, won the battle of rebounds 38-28 and had 19 assists to Israel's 6. Greece survived a tough test by edging Serbia 68-67 in overtime in the second game of the day. Dikoudis led the winners with 20 points while his Panathinaikos teammate Vassilis Spanoulis added 10 for Greece. Marko Jaric led Serbia with 18 points, Darko Milicic added 17, but it was Gurovic who provided the highlight by banking in a 10-meter desperation shot that took the game to overtime, 56-56. Zoran Erceg of FMP narrowly missed a double-double with 9 points and 12 rebounds. The game saw as many as 7 lead changes before Marko Jaric hit free throws for a 48-51 Serbian lead. Dikoudis buried a triple and Theo Papaloukas of CSKA and Kostas Tsartsaris of Panathinaikos added free throws for a 54-51 Greek edge. Jaric made free throws with 9 seconds to go in regulation, Dikoudis made the mistake of dunking it at the other game, giving Gurovic enough time to bury an impossible three-pointer with 0.8 seconds to go to force overtime. Serbia took its last lead, 63-64, on a free throw by Jaric. Lazaros Papadopoulos of Real Madrid scored inside and Dikoudis nailed one from downtown for a 68-64 Greek edge. Milos Teodosic of FMP took over with a layup-plus-foul and Spanoulis missed on the other end, but Papadopoulos blocked Jaric's desperation shot at the buzzer.

Group B
Zoran Planinic - (FIBA Europe/Castoria)Croatia bounced back from its opening night loss in Group B by thrashing Portugal 90-68 in Seville. Marko Popovic of Zalgiris Kaunas led five Croatian players in double digits with 14 points. Damir Markota added 13, Roko-Leni Ukic of Lottomatica Roma had 12, while Nikola Prkacin of Dynamo Moscow and Mario Kasun of AXA FCB each got 10 for Croatia. Joao Gomes had 17 points for Portugal, Paulo Cunha 13 and Joao Santos 12. Portugal found a go-to guy in Gomes in the opening quarter, as he had 13 points in the first 10 minutes. Even with that, a layup by Ukic and a buzzer-beating triple by Marin Rozic of Cibona tied it at 19-19 at the end of the first quarter. Portugal did not surrender, however, and managed to regain the lead on a driving layup by Cunha, 34-35. Popovic stepped up with 5 points during an 8-0 run that helped Croatia to get a 42-36 halftime lead. Croatia came back after the break with an improved attitude. A layup by Popovic sparked a 16-3 run in which he had 8 points, enough to give Croatia a 58-42 lead. Portugal did not recover and Croatia cruised to a much-needed win. Spain had more trouble than expected in downing Latvia 93-77 in the second game in Group B. Spain improved to 2-0 while Latvia dropped to 1-1. Pau Gasol led the winners with 25 points and 9 rebounds. Euroleague Rising Star award winner Rudy Fernandez added 20, Jose Manuel Calderon had 14 and Jorge Garbajosa 11 for Spain. Andris Biedrins had 17 points for Latvia, Armands Skele added 16 while Sandis Valters of ASK Riga got 12 for the Baltic side, which led 31-33 midway through the second quarter. Pau Gasol and a late triple by Calderon helped Spain to regain the lead, 41-35, at the break. Fernandez, Garbajosa and Pau Gasol hit from downtown to break the game open, 56-42, after 24 minutes. Latvia never surrendered, but only managed to get within 82-72 with 4 minutes remaining. Garbajosa and Pau Gasol sealed the outcome long before the final buzzer.

Group C
Jonas Maciulis - (FIBA Europe/Castoria/T.Wiedensohler)Lithuania improved to 2-0 in Group C and advanced to the next round by thrashing the Czech Republic 95-75 in Palma de Mallorca. Lavrinovic led the winners with 22 points on 4-of-4 three-point shooting. Linas Kleiza added 14, Darjus Lavrinovic of Unics Kazan had 12 and Sarunas Jasikevicius got 10 for Lithuania. Jiri Welsch of Unicaja had 18 points for the Czech Republic, Petr Benda of Nymburk added 14 and Lubos Barton of DKV Joventut 13. The Czech Republic only managed to trade baskets in the early going, with an uncontested layup by Maurice Whitfeld giving his team a 5-6 edge. Free throws by Darius Lavrinovic and a triple by Siskauskas sparked a 19-4 run, in which Jasikevicius simply took over to break the game open at 24-10 after 10 minutes. Outstanding ball circulation, added to the Lavrinovic twins' power, allowed Lithuania to boost its margin to 54-31 at halftime. The Czechs did not surrender, as Whitfeld and Benda got their team within 84-72 with 4 minutes to go, but Ksystof Lavrinovic and Simas Jasaitis of Tau Ceramica hit from downtown to make Lithuania cruise to a well-deserved win. Germany sent a message that echoed all around EuroBasket 2007 by thrashing Turkey 79-49 in the second game in Group C. Dirk Nowitzki paced the winners with 24 points, Ademola Okulaja added 13 while his Brose Baskets teammate Demond Greene had 13 for Germany. Hedo Turkoglu had 15 points for Turkey. It was a balanced game in the early going, with Engin Atsur of Benetton and Ersan Ilyasova of Axa FCB keeping Turkey close. Back-to-back baskets by Nowitzki and Stephen Arigbabu gave Germany a 16-11 lead after 10 minutes. Germany improved its offense in the second quarter by getting Nowitzki involved and as usual, the NBA MVP did not disappoint. He followed a jumper with free throws to give his team a 25-16 lead. Team Turkey could not find the way to the basket, while Greene and Nowitzki fueled an 8-0 run that broke the game open, 37-23, which led to a 40-27 halftime margin. Germany continued to excel on defense, as its opponents found no answers on the other end. Germany kept extending its margin almost until the final buzzer.

Group D
Erazem Lorbek (photo: FIBA Europe / Castoria / Giulio Ciamillo)France improved to 2-0 and made it to the next round from Group D by edging Italy 69-62 in Alicante. Tony Parker led the winners with 36 points while Tariq Kirksay of Unics Kazan added 11. Andrea Bargnani had 16 points for Italy, Marco Belinelli added 15 and Massimo Bulleri of Armani Jeans Milano 11. Bargnani scored all the points in a 0-7 opening run for Italy, which tried alternative defenses in the early going. Parker soon caught fire, hitting back-to-back triples and adding a layup-plus-foul to bring France back to life. Even with that, Belinelli followed a jumper with a running triple and Denis Marconato of AXA FCB dunked it for a 17-20 Italian lead after 10 minutes. Bargnani kept pacing Italy, while Bulleri hit from downtown, causing France to call timeout at 24-33. Parker and Florent Pietrus got France within 31-36 at halftime. Les Blues improved their defense after the break and a three-pointer by Parker finally put France ahead, 40-39. Parker kept scoring often, but back-to-back baskets by Stefano Mancinelli of Climamio and Belinelli got Italy within 51-47 after 30 minutes. Bargnani fired in another three-pointer to give Italy its last lead, 57-60, with 4 minutes to go. But Italy was limited to just 2 more points until the final buzzer as Parker scored 7 points in a 12-2 run that sealed the outcome. Slovenia improved to 2-0 and set a big showdown against France by thrashing Poland 70-52 also in Alicante. Erazem Lorbek of Lottomatica Roma led the winners with 16 points, Jaka Lakovic of AXA FCB added 15 while former Euroleague champion Rasho Nesterovic posted a double-double of 11 points and 12 rebounds for Slovenia. Andrzej Pluta had 12 points for Poland, most of them in the early going, when his team dominated the game, 11-17. Goran Dragic of Tau Ceramica had 5 points in an 11-0 run that put Slovenia ahead for good, 24-19. Lorbek and Lakovic helped Slovenia to boost its margin to 34-26 at halftime and then again to 51-34 with 8 minutes to go, enough to break the game open for good.
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