A decisive Tuesday at EuroBasket 2017 saw all but two of 16 places in the elimination rounds covered, none more surprising than Finland and Hungary. Only Slovenia and Spain remained undefeated, however.
Slovenia ran its perfect record in Helsinki to 4-0 by thrashing winless Iceland 75-102 on Tuesday. A 37-point scoring outburst in the second quarter proved the difference in the blowout. Goran Dragic led five double-digit scorers for Slovenia with 21 points. Jaka Blazic of MoraBanc Andorra added 15, Klemen Prepelic of Levallois Metropolitans 14 and Luka Doncic of Real Madrid 13 plus 7 rebounds. Already qualified ot the next round, Slovenia will play France on Thursday for first place in Group A. France dodged a bullet in Tuesday's second game by outlasting Poland 75-78 thanks to some last-minute cool from Thomas Heurtel of FC Barcelona Lassa. Heurtel scored 11 of his team-high 23 points in the fourth quarter and dished 6 assists to lead France. Adam Waczynski of Unicaja Malaga scored 15 points and led Poland's late challenge, tying the game at 69-69 on free throws with 2:38 to play. France answered with a two-minute, 0-7 run, including 4 points by Heurtel, who added 2 free throws after Waczynski triple with 16 seconds left to make sure of the victory. France's record is 3-1. And in the last game of the night, host Finland punched its ticket to the elimination rounds, too, by stopping Greece 77-89 behind a command performance by Petteri Koponen of FC Barcelona Lassa. Koponen was the big gun as Finland raced to a 3-16 advantage after tipoff, and then stayed in front of Greece every step of the way from that point onward, delighting the home crowd in Helsinki. Koponen finished with 24 points and 6 assists for Finland while Lauri Markkanen added 17 points. Greece got 17 points from Thanasis Antetokounmpo of Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens and 12 from Kostas Sloukas of Fenerbahce. Now, with a 1-3 record, Greece must play Poland in less than 24 hours with the winner advancing and the loser going home.
Lithuania left no doubt about its ambitions for first place in this group as it manhandled Ukraine 62-94 in the first game of the day in Tel Aviv. The victory lifted Lithuania's record to 3-1. Jonas Valanciunas ruled the middle with 22 points and 14 rebounds for the winners, while Mantas Kalnietis of AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan had his own double-double of 10 points and 11 assists. Ukraine scored the game's first basket, but Lithuania responded with the next 9 points and never looked back on the way to victory. A last-game showdown for first place in Group C was set up a little later when Germany topped Italy 55-61 in a defensive duel. Dennis Schroder scored 17 points for Germany, while Johannes Voigtmann of Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz compiled 12 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Danilo Barthel of FC Bayern Munich contributed 9 points and 6 rebounds, as well. For Italy, Ariel Filloy scored 15 pints and Marko Belinelli 12, while Luigi Datome of Fenerbahce Dogus Istanbul had 9 and 7 rebounds. Voigtmann's three-pointer broke the last tie, at 31-31, and he soon popped another, when Italy got within a point, to make it 37-41. It didn't get that close again because Barthel stepped up with 8 points in 3 minutes midway through the final quarter, after which Germany controlled the scoreboard to the finish. And in a thriller for survival in Group B, Georgia stayed alive with a 91-104 overtime win against host Israel, which was eliminated. Tornike Shengelia of Baskonia had a monster double-double of 25 points and 19 rebounds to lead Georgia, which also got 19 points from Zaza Pachulia, 18 from Michael Dixon and 17 from Duda Sanadze. Gal Mekel led Israel with 23 points, while his Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem teammates Richard Howell and Lior Eliyahu added 19 and 14, respectively. The biggest lead of the game was Israel's 42-33 advantage in the second quarter, after which both teams stayed close and kept gunning for glory. After he had tied the game twice earlier in the fourth quarter, Shengelia put Georgia ahead on a free throw, 79-80, with 4:41 to play. Mekel took the lead back with a minute left and then it changed hands before Omri Casspi's game tying layup and block forced overtime at 89-89. Shengelia hit the first shot in the extra period and Georgia never looked back, outscoring Israel 2-15 the rest of the way. Georgia needs to beat Italy or hope that Ukraine loses to Israel on Wednesday to keep fourth place and advance to the elimination rounds.
A showdown for first place in Cluj-Napoca, Romania went down to the wire before Spain stayed perfect by outlasting previously unbeaten Croatia 73-79. Ricky Rubio had 13 points for Spain, while Sergio Rodriguez of CSKA Moscow and Fernando San Emeterio of Valencia Basket added 12 each. Dario Saric piled up 18 points, 13 rebounds and 5 assists for Croatia, while Bojan Bogdanovic scored 15 and Marko Tomas of Cedevita Zagreb 10. In what was a tight game all the way, Croatia had taken its last lead at 63-62 on a free throw by Marko Popovic with 4:13 to play, but Rodriguez made a triple and a long two-pointer to seemingly put Spain in the clear at 58-63. However, a foul plus double technicals on Spain let Saric make 4 of 4 free throws at 62-63, after which Spain had to match layups by Bogdanovic to maintain the advantage. A pair of free throws by San Emeterio of Valencia Basket that made it 71-74 with 20 seconds left proved enough for Spain to hold the victory. To top off the evening, Hungary advanced to the knockout stages of EuroBasket for the first time in almost 50 years at the same time that eliminated host Romania with a 71-80 win. David Vojvoda scored 26 points and Adam Hanga of Barcelona had 25 as Hungary advanced further than at any time since 1969. Hanga's last-second jumper to finish the first quarter gave Hungary its first lead, 15-16. He scored the first 5 points of the second quarter, too, and then made a three-pointer when Romania got within 48-49 late in the third. After that, it was all Hungary.
Latvia made a big move in Group D by knocking off previously unbeaten Russia 69-84 to take over first place with one game to play. Janis Timma of Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz was the big gun for the winners with 22 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists. Kristaps Porzingis and Rolands Smits added 11 points each for the winners. Russia got 21 points and 6 assists from Alexey Shved of Khimki Moscow Region, as well as 16 points from Timofey Mosgov. Russia had led 44-32 late in the second quarter, but an 8-18 third quarter by Latvia left a 52-52 tie. Latvia continued surging through the finish with Timma, Janis Strelnieks of Olympiacos Piraeus, Zanis Peiners of Lietkabelis Panevezys, and Martins Meiers of Unics Kazan accounting for 23 of their team's 32 points in the fourth quarter as Latvia handed Russia its first defeat. That result produced a three-way tie for first place when Serbia downed Great Britain 68-82. Reigning EuroLeague champ Bogdan Bogdanovic was again everywhere for Serbia, with 18 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists and 5 steals. Vladimir Stimac of Anadolu Efes Istanbul had 11 points, the same as Stefan Jovic, whose FC Bayern Munich teammate Milan Macvan added 10. Serbia took over the scoreboard in the first quarter and never let Britain get too close the rest of the way. Group D's qualifiers were complete when the host of the elimination rounds, Turkey, finally shook off Belgium to win 78-65. Sam Van Rossom's 5 points in a row forced a final tie at 60-60 with 5 minutes left, after which 4 free throws by Furkan Korkmaz and a three-pointer from Melih Mahmutoglu sparked a 13-0 deciding run in Turkey's favor. Korkmaz hit all 7 of his free throws for a team-high 14 pints, while Mahmutoglu and Semih Erden scored 12 each, and Cedi Osman 10. Van Rossom top-scored for Belgium, which was eliminated along with Great Britain, with 13 points.