Sunday brought final decision time in the opening stage of EuroBasket 2011 closer for many teams. Spain became the first group winner with a virtuoso performance, stopping host Lithuania, as Juan Carlos Navarro of FC Barcelona Regal starred with 22 points. A pair of reigning Turkish Airlines Euroleague Turkish Airlines Euroleague champs, Antonis Fotsis of EA7 - Emporio Armani and Nick Calathes of Panathinaikos Athens, paced Greece into a first-place tie with FYROM, led by Bo McCalebb of Montepaschi Siena. Poland upset last year's World Championships silver medalists, Turkey, with Adam Hyrcaniuk of Asseco Prokom Gdynia playing big. And Bosnia-Herzegovina stayed alive with Mirza Teletovic of Caja Laboral and Henry Domercant of Unics Kazan sharing 49 points
Lithuania 79-91 Spain
By scoring at will early and taking the home crowd out of the game, Spain won Group A in a lopsided battle of undefeated teams, blasting host Lithunia 79-91 in a strong offensive display. With 62 points at halftime and 13-for-26 three-point shooting, Spain proved too much for Lithuania to handle. Juan Carlos Navarro of FC Barcelona Regal pumped in 22 points, including 5 three-pointers, for the winners. Pau Gasol added 17 points, Serge Ibaka 15 and Jose Calderon 12. Lithuania got 13 points from Jonas Valanciunas of Lietuvos Rytas and 11 each from Rimantas Kaukenas of Montepaschi Siena and Martynas Pocius of Real Madrid. Spain blasted off to a 12-31 lead after one quarter as Navarros set the pace with 3 three-pointers on his way to 15 points in those first 10 miinutes. Soon, Reyes and Llull helped up the lead to 12-38 as Spain's defense had already forced 8 Lithuania turnovers. Spain would lead by 28 points, 21-49, after 15 minutes and keep pumping in the points to stay up 36-62 at the half. Lithuania finally responded with a 21-10 run midway through the third quarter as Martynas Pocius of Real Madrid got hot, but it was still not enough to get closer than 61-81 afer three quarters, which Navarro closed with a corner triple. It was still 68-89 with under 4 minutes left before Lithuania made it look better with an 11-2 closing run.
Great Britain 85-73 Portugal
Great Britain got a much-needed taste of victory on Sunday by stopping Portugal 85-73. The win, coming at a higher level of competition than Great Britain has won at in more than two decades, kept alive its hopes for a third-place finish. It also boosted the team's confidence as it goes to the 2012 London Olympic Games as host next summer. Luol Deng carried the winners with 31 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists, in 38 minutes that showed how important getting in the win column was for him and his team. Mike Lenzly chipped in with 17 points and Joel Freeland of Unicaja added 6 rebounds.
Poland 84-83 Turkey
Poland registered the upset of the tournament so far, stopping last year's World Championships silver medalist, Turkey, with a thrilling 84-83 victory. Both teams are now 2-2, tied for the third and final qualifying spot in the group, leaving the drama the group's third-place finish until Monday. Dardan Berisha's step-back jumper with 12 seconds left was the last basket, as a triple attempt to win by Kerem Tunceri of Turkey fell short. Berisha led the winners with 21 points, and was seconded by 15 and 6 rebounds from Adam Hrycaniuk of Asseco Prokom Gdynia. Szymon Szewczyk added 12 points and Thomas Kelati of Khimki Moscow Region 11 for Poland. Enes Kanter paced Turkey with 19 points, while Emir Preldzic of Fenerbahce Ulker had 11 and game-highs of 7 rebounds and 4 assists. After a close first three quarters, free throws by Szewczyk put Poland up 63-62 to open the final one, but soon Preldzic had 4 points as Turkey went ahead 68-75. Poland's comeback was completed when Piotr Pamula hit his sole shot of the game, a three-pointer, for an 82-81 lead with 46 seconds left. Kanter's free throws put Turkey back in front before Berisha's big jumper over Ersan Ilyasova decided it.
Germany 64-75 Serbia
Serbia stayed perfect and will have a head-to-head battle to win its group after seeing off Germany 64-75 in style on Sunday. Germany, though it fell to 2-2, nonetheless advanced to the next round. A 0-9 start set the pace for Serbia, whose lead was not seriously threatened the rest of the way. Milos Teodosic orchestrated the victory with a near triple-double of 12 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists despite not playing much in the final quarter. His CSKA Moscow teammated Nenad Krstic scored 15 points, while Dusko Savanovic of Anadolu Efes Pilsen led the winners with 18 and Milan Macvan of Maccabi Electra pulled 9 rebounds. Germany was led by Dirk Nowitzki with 25 points. Serbia ran ahead early behind Teodosic's passing and opened a double-digit lead at 7-17 on back-to-back triples by Marko Keselj of Olympiacos Piraeus. Germany settled down, but even as Nowitzki heated up for 12 first-half points, couldn't get closer than 28-38 at the half thanks to Savanovic's 10-point output. His triple and Teodosic's seventh assist, a bullet to Krstic, extentded the lead to 35-50 after halftime. Serbia's solid defense kept the lid on Germany the rest of the way.
Italy 84-91 France
France dashed Italy's hopes for survival by owning the last few minutes of their showdown to take an 84-91 victory and remain undefeated after four games. France ended Italy's chances by finishing the game with a 3-12 scoring run after falling behind 81-79 with 2:25 to play. Nicolas Batum starred for the winners with 20 points, but his blocked shot and 2 late steals proved the difference in turning around the scoreboard. France played the finish without team leader Tony Parker, who was on the bench but had hurt his leg during the game. Boris Diaw led the winners with 21 points, while Ali Traore of PBC Lokomotiv-Kuban had 11 points in 10 minutes off the bench. Andrea Bargnani had 22 points for Italy, whose record fell to 1-3. An open three-pointer by Mickael Gelabale of Belgacom Spirou midway through the final quarter had put France up 74-77, but Italy took a lead back 81-79 on Danilo Gallinari's three-point play with 2:25 to play. Diaw's free throws took back the lead for France and his next basket made it 82-85 after which Batum sealed the victory on defense and offense.
Israel 91-88 Latvia
Israel eeked out a first win, 91-88, over feisty Latvia, but that wasn't good enough to keep its hopes of advancing alive. Lior Eliyahu of Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv took over for the winners with 26 points, 10 rebounds for Israel. His Maccabi teammates, Guy Pnini and David Blu, backed him up with 12 and 11 points, respectively. Latvia got another huge game out of Janis Blums of Bizkaia Bilbao Basket, as he poured in 27 points and dished 6 assists while playing 36 minutes. Blums is the tournament's eight-best scorer so far at 17 points per game. Pnini's late three-pointer after 6 previous misses seemed to put Israel in the clear with 18 seconds left, but Latvia still had a chance to tie at the buzzer before Janis Stelnieks missed a three-pointer, letting Israel celebrate a victory.
Bosnia-Herzegovina 92-80 Croatia
Bosnia-Herzegovina rode the hot hand of two Turkish Airlines Euroleague stars to a potential spot in the next round at EuroBasket 2011 with a 92-80 victory over neighbor Croatia on Sunday. The two teams are now tied with 2-2 records and play co-leaders Greece and FYROM on Monday. On Sunday, Mirza Teletovic of Caja Laboral had 26 points Henry Domercant of Unics Kazan 23 for Bosnia. Of those 49 points combined against Croatia, half were from downtown, as they blasted 8 of 15 three-pointers between them. Ante Tomic of Real Madrid had 23 points on 10-for-14 shooting for Croatia, while Bojan Bogdanovic of Fenerbahce Ulker had 16. Teletovic had 15 first-quarter points but the scoreboard remained tight as he and Tomic dueled in a shootout finished tied 28-28 after 10 minutes. The game's eighth tie, 36-36, gave way as Bosnia scored the last 7 points before halftime, including Teletovic's next 2 on free throws. Croatia came back to tie on the first 7 points after halftime, but the lead never changed hands as Domercant then got hot, pouring in 20 of his points from there to the end of the game.
Montenegro 55-71 Greece
An amazing 19-0 run early in the second half catapulted Greece to a 55-71 victory over Montenegro and a tie for first place in the group. Greece improved to 3-1 while Montenegro fell to 1-3 and out of contention. Big man Kostas Koufos led Greece with 19 points. A pair of current Turkish Airlines Euroleague champs, Antonis Fotsis of EA7 - Emporio Armani and Nick Calathes of Panathinaikos Athens, added 14 and 11 points, respectively. Nikola Pekovic had 15 points, 7 rebounds for Montenegro, which led 33-32 on Vladimir Dasic's jump shot to open the second half. That, however, is when Greece's defense locked in, holding Montenegro to a single point over the next 7 minutes while racing to a game-changing 34-53 advantage. Fotsis and Calathes combined for 10 of their points in that decisive stretch, after which Greece remained completely in control.
FYROM 72-70 Finland
A third win in a row was the charm for FYR of Macedonia, which rode a narrow 72-70 decision over Finland to first place in the group and a spot in the next round. FYROM, which has never finished higher than ninth at EuroBasket, will have a chance to improve on that next week in Vilnius. An inspired, 40-minute performance from Pero Antic was at the heart of the big win. The veteran big man finished with 14 points and 19 rebounds, while his basket with 4:20 to play gave FYROM a 68-66 lead it never relinquished. Bo McCalebb, who led the winners with 18 points, hit 4 of 4 free throws down the stretch to preserve the victory in what had been a tight game throughout. The lead changed hands many times, with FYROM up by as much as 6 points, 48-42, midway through the third quarter, before a 9-19 run put Finland in front 57-61 early in the fourth. Vojdan Stojanovski added 16 points for FYROM. Finland got 11 points each from Mikko Koivisto and Petteri Koponen.
Georgia 69-53 Ukraine
Tournament newcomer Georgia has the second round on its mind after burying Ukraine with defense, 69-53, on Sunday to improve its record to 2-2. Georgia must now defeat Bulgaria on Monday to keep its dream rolling forward. Against Ukraine, the Georgians ruled the boards with a 40-29 advantage and got a boost off the bench from teenage forward Toko Shengelia of Belgacom Spirou. Shengelia had 12 points and 7 rebounds in 18 minutes, including one rim-rocking dunk that fired up his team. Manuchar Markoishvili of NGC Canty joined George Tsintsadze in leading Georgia with 14 points each, while Viktor Sanikidze pulled down 12 rebounds. Ukraine had led 17-10 early but Georgia turned things around in the middle quarters and held Ukraine to 1 point over 4 minutes of the fourth to win going away. The 16-point difference could prove most important should Georgia lose and Ukraine win on Monday, forcing a three-way tie with Bulgaria.
Bulgaria 77-89 Russia
With efficiency on offense making the difference, Russia stayed perfect atop Group D by running away from Bulgaria to a 77-89 victory on Sunday. Bulgaria never made it an easy game, but Russia's quality prevailed in closing out the decision when the difference was as little as 7 points with under 3 minutes left. That's when Viktor Khryapa of CSKA Moscow dished the prettiest of his 8 assists, a transition alley-oop to Andrei Kirilenko to put Russia in the clear for good. Kirilenko led the winners with 25 poins and 4 steals. Khryapa had 12 points and 2 blocks to go with his 8 assists. Timofey Mozgov and Vitaly Fridzon of Khimki Moscow Region added 15 and 12 points, respectively. Russia's 25 total assists, including 5 more from CSKA Moscow guard Alexey Shved, more than doubled Bulgaria's total and led to 60.9% two-point and 46.2% three-point accuracy. Dejan Ivanov led Bulgaria with 23 points.
Belgium 61-70 Slovenia
Slovenia will fight for first place in the group after coming back to beat winless Belgium 61-70 to stay perfect after four games. Slovenia and Russia will now break their undefeated tie atop the group on Monday. Slovenia took over the scoreboard of a close game soon after halftime but never had it easy, either before or after. Belgium had used a four-point play by Christophe Beghin of Belgacom Spirou to race to a 10-2 start but Goran Jagodnik of Union Olimpija soon took Slovenia's first lead at 12-13. The tight score persisted as a three-point play by Mirza Begic of Real Madrid pulled Slovenia within 30-29 at halftime. Even after Slovenia pushed in front, Belgium consistently climbed within a point of the lead, the last time one a three-pointer by Beghin to make it 61-62 with 2:15 to play. Slovenia scored the games last 8 points, however. Goran Dragic led the winners with 18 points, while Begic followed with 14 and 7 rebounds. The big gun for Belgium was Tomas Van den Spiegel of Telenet Oostende with 16 points, 7 rebounds.
|Day 5, Preliminary Round, Sunday September 4, 2011
|Great Britain vs. Portugal
||Israel vs. Latvia
|FYROM vs. Finland
||Georgia vs. Ukraine
|Poland vs. Turkey
||Italy vs. France
|Montenegro vs. Greece
||Bulgaria vs. Russia
|Lithuania vs. Spain
||Germany vs. Serbia
|Bosnia-Herzegov. vs. Croatia
||Belgium vs. Slovenia