Group A in Helsinki and Group B in Tel Aviv returned to action on Sunday and thrilled local fans as home teams rallied for huge wins late in the day. Slovenia took control of Group A with a big win over Greece, but Group B saw both of its previously undefeated co-leaders fall as the plot thickened in Tel Aviv.
France put on an offensive show, its biggest as a national team this decade, in beating Iceland 115-79 in the early game Sunday in Helsinki. The game stayed relatively close through halftime, when France led 49-42. A 37-point outburst in the third quarter by France changed everything, however, and the winners upped their record to 2-1. Nando De Colo of CSKA Moscow paced six double-digit scorers for France with 16 points. Kevin Seraphin added 14 points, while his new FC Barcelona Lassa teammate Thomas Huertel had 9 and 6 assists. Axel Toupane of Zalgiris Kaunas scored 10. France made 72.9% of 48 two-point shot attempts. Iceland is now 0-3. Slovenia stayed ahead of everyone in Group A at 3-0 with a fourth-quarter rally to top Greece 78-72. Luka Doncic of Real Madrid poured in 22 points for the winners, while Goran Dragic had 20 and Klemen Prepelic of Levallois Metropolitans struck for 16. After leading by 23-13 after 10 minutes, Slovenia saw Greece dominate the middle quarters and lead 52-58 at the end of three. Greece still led 60-64 with 5:30 to play on a layup by Nikos Pappas of Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens, but Doncic's dunk soon tied it and Edo Muric's three-pointer put Slovenia ahead for good. Greece got 18 points from Kostas Sloukas of Fenerbahce Dogus Istanbul and 10 each from Pappas, Georgios Printezis of Olympiacos Piraeus and Georgios Papagiannis. And in Sunday's last Group A game, Finland kept up its drive to reach the Round of 16 with a spectacular 90-87 double-overtime victory against Poland. Sasu Salin of Unicaja Malaga made a layup to break the last tie with 1:25 left in the second overtime and Petteri Koponen of FC Barcelona Lassa made 2 of 4 free throws in the last 20 seconds to ensure the win, Finland's second. Lauri Markkanen, who forced both overtimes with 8 or fewer seconds left, finished with 27 points and 9 rebounds to lead Finland. Koponen drilled 21 points and dished 7 assists, while Salin scored 10. Adam Waczynski of Unicaja and A.J. Slaughter of ASVEL Villeurbanne scored 18 each for Poland.
The first game in Tel Aviv proved an upset that could shake up the group as previously winless Ukraine downed Georgia 81-88. A decisive second quarter, 18-30 in favor of Ukraine, proved decisive. Georgia would come back to within 3 points on several occasions in the second half, the last at 81-84 with 40 seconds left on a three-pointer by Manuchar Markoishvili of Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia, but never got closer. Artem Pustovyi led Ukraine with 19 points, while Oleksandr Lypovyy and Denys Lukashov added 17 each. Giorgi Shermadini of Unicaja Malaga and Zaza Pachulia scored 17 each for Georgia, while Tornike Shengelia of Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz had 16 and 7 rebounds. Lithuania continued climbing in Group B by knocking off previously unbeaten Italy 78-73. Lithuania took over a close game with a solid second quarter, the only one in which it outscored Italy, and managed the lead the rest of the way. Adas Juskevicius boosted the winners with 20 points, while Mantas Kalnietis of AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan scored 12 to go with 8 assists. Luigi Datome of Fenerbahce led Italy with 24 points. In an epic comeback that added further drama to this group, previously winless Israel rallied from 16 points behind with little more than 8 minutes left to defeat previously unbeaten Germany 80-82. The Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem trio of Gal Mekel, Bar Timor and Richard Howell sparked the rally, combining for 11 points in a 1-13 run that cut the difference to 76-72 with under 5 minutes left. On an assist by Mekel, former EuroLeague champ Guy Pnini hit the last go-ahead shot, a three-pointer, with 28 seconds left to make it 80-81 and send Israel to its first victory. Howell finished with 23 points, 9 rebounds and 7 steals to lead Israel. Omri Casspi added 20 points, 11 rebounds for the winners, while Mekel scored 12 and dished 4 assists. Johannes Voigtmann of Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz scored 13 for Germany, which was led by Dennis Schroder with 20. Daniel Theis posted a double-double o 15 points and rebounds, while Danilo Barthel of FC Bayern Munich added 10.