Cluj-Napoca, Romania and Istanbul, Turkey took bows as hosts of Group C and Group D, respectively, on the second day of EuroBasket 2017 action. The top four of six teams from each of four groups, including the two in Helsinki, Finland and Tel Aviv, Israel, will advance to the knockout rounds in Istanbul starting on September 9, with the survivor being crowned the new European national champion on Sunday, September 17.
In the opening game in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, lock-down defense in the final quarter helped Croatia pull away from Hungary for a first win, 58-67. Hungary had led 53-52 before a 0-8 blast put Croatia in the driver's seat. Its defense held Hungary to just 5 points in the fourth quarter to win going away. Hungarian captain Adam Hanga of FC Barcelona Lassa, the reigning EuroLeague Best Defender, left the game after 16 minutes with a hip injury. Croatia was led in scoring by Bojan Bogdanovic, with 23 points, and by Dario Saric, with 15. Marko Tomas of Cedevita Zagreb followed them with 8 points and 5 rebounds. Spain got its title defense off to a strong start by outplaying Montenegro at both ends of the floor for a 99-60 victory. Fernando San Emeterio of Valencia Basket broke an 8-8 tie early and Spain's leads kept growing from there. CSKA Moscow's Sergio Rodriguez came off the bench for 6 stellar assists in a matter of minutes as Spain sped to a 51-29 advantage by halftime and never looked back. Willy Hernangomez led the winners with 18 points and his brother Juancho had 13. San Emeterio and Pau Gasol added 10, while the EuroLeague's all-time scoring leader, Juan Carlos Navarro of Barcelona, went 3 for 3 from downtown for 9 points. Rodriguez finished with 10 assists to go with 7 points in 14 minutes. The final Group C game of the night saw the Czech Republic disappoint the home crowd by defeating Romania 68-83 as Vojtech Hruban scored 25 points while Tomas Satoransky had 20, 13 rebounds and 6 assists. Vlad Moldoveanu led Romania with 24 points.
In the first game in Istanbul, Belgium came back from second-half deficits for a solid 103-90 victory over Great Britain. In the highest-scoring performance of the tournament so far, Belgium had four scorers with 17 points or more, including Jonathan Tabu of RETABet Bilbao Basket with 18. Maxime De Zeeuw led the way with 21 points, while Sam Van Rossom had 19 and Pierre-Antoine Gillet 17. Kieren Achara had put Great Britain up 64-67 before Van Rossom and Jean Salumu filled a 9-0 run to close the third quarter and send Belgium on its way to victory. In the tense matchup that followed, Serbia had to come from behind with 3 minutes left to stop Latvia 92-82. Reigning EuroLeague champion Bogdan Bogdanovic exploded for 30 points, his national team career high, including many key ones down the stretch, for the winners. Milan Macvan of FC Bayern Munich followed him with 14 points. Dairis Bertans of AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan led Latvia with 23 points and 6 assists, while his brother Davis had 16 and Kristaps Porzingis 18. Latvia rallied behind 5 points from Dairis Bertans in a 0-10 run to lead 73-75 lead with less than 3 minutes left. Serbia responded with Bogdanovic, Stefan Jovic of Munich, Marko Guduric of Fenerbahce Dogus Istanbul, Ognjen Kuzmic of Real Madrid and Dragan Milosavljevic of Unicaja Malaga all scoring to make it 85-77 heading into the final minute, enough to assure the triumph. The game everyone in Istanbul was waiting for ended in disappointment for the locals as Russia pulled away late to defeat host Turkey 73-76. Khimki Moscow Region star Alexey Shved's deep, face-up three-pointer with 25 seconds left was the difference maker. Shved finished with 22 points while Timofey Mozgov had 20 for the winners. Cedi Osman poured in 28 points or Turkey to go along with 7 rebounds, 7 steals and 4 assists. A basket by Sinan Guler of Fenerbahce Dogus Istanbul had put Turkey up 13-10 in the first quarter, but Russia scored the next 10 points to take a lead that held, despite one tie after halftime, until early in the fourth quarter. That's when Guler's layup with 7:55 left made it 58-57 but Shved answered for Russia, which stayed in front. Guler's alley-oop to Furkan Korkmaz and Cedi Osman's bank shot put Turkey ahead again 68-66 with 3:36 to play. Russia went back ahead 68-69 headed into the final minute, when Shved buried a triple and Vitaly Fridzon of CSKA Moscow 2 free throws to seal a huge victory for Russia.