Serbia, France and Greece remained perfect at EuroBasket 2015 after Day 5 wins on Wednesday, but only Greece clinched first place in its group. In the remaining three groups, there will be direct head-to-head clashes for first place on Thursday, the final day of group stage action.
Israel guaranteed itself a spot in the second round and will play host France for first place in the group after defeating Poland 73-75 in Montpellier, France. Gal Mekel of Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade made 6 free throws without a miss over the final 30 seconds to help keep Israel in front. The white-and-blue crew improved to 3-1, while dropping Poland to 2-2. The game was close throughout and featured 17 lead changes with neither team ever leading by more than 5 points. Mekel finished with 18 points and 5 assists, while Hapoel Bank Yahav Jeruslaem center D’Or Fischer posted 15 points and 8 rebounds and Omri Casspi added 14 points. Trabzonspor Medical Park big man Damian Kulig and Adam Waczynski paced Poland with 15 points each. Earlier,
France survived a stern test from Russia, but held on for a 67-74 victory in Wednesday’s nightcap. All-Euroleague guard Nando De Colo of CSKA Moscow scored 13 and Tony Parker and Rudy Gobert added 12 apiece for the winners. Russia led by as many as 13 in the second quarter and was up 61-55 early in the fourth quarter, but the French defense shut down the Russians the rest of the way, limiting them to just 6 points. De Colo nailed the go-ahead triple with three minutes to go and Joffrey Lauvergne played tough inside to give France the win. De Colo’s CSKA teammate, Vitaly Fridzon, paced Russia with 20 points on 4-of-5 three-point shooting and the Nizhny Novgorod duo of Semen Antonov and Dmitry Khvostov posted 13 points and 10 assists, respectively. Earlier, Finland took a huge step towards a place in the second round after thrashing Bosnia and Herzegovina 59-88. Finland started pulling away in the second quarter behind Erik Murphy of Besiktas JK Istanbul and Jamar Wilson to take a 27-41 lead into the break. Petteri Koponen of Khimki Moscow Region hit a three to start the second half, and another basket from Murphy extended the margin to 19 points, paving the way for a Finland victory and a 2-2 record. Koponen finished with 14 points and 6 assists, and Murphy collected 11 points, 6 boards and 4 assists in victory. For Bosnia, which dropped to 1-3, Elmedin Kikanovic of ALBA Berlin had 13 points and 5 rebounds.
Italy set up a showdown for first place in the group after edging Germany 89-82 after overtime in Berlin. Danilo Gallinari starred with 25 points to lead Italy, which improved to 3-1 and will win the group if it beats Serbia on Thursday. Germany led by 7 early in the fourth quarter, but Italy fought back and the game went down to the wire. Gallinari’s jumped in the closing seconds tied the game at 76-76 and Dennis Schroeder missed a layup at the buzzer that would have won it for Germany. It was tied at 82-82 with a minute remaining in the extra session before Gallinari sank another big shot. After a Germany turnover, Marco Belinelli nailed a three that all but clinched the win. Andrea Bargnani and Belinelli scored 17 points apiece and EA7 Emporio Armani Milan swingman Alessandro Gentile added 15 for Italy. Schroeder scored 29 and Dirk Nowitzki posted 14 points and 10 rebounds for Germany. Serbia remained perfect with a resounding 72-91 win over Turkey. Serbia did not wait long to take full control. Milos Teodosic of CSKA Moscow and Nikola Kalinic of Fenerbahce Istanbul hit back-to-back threes to spark a 0-15 run for 7-22 lead. Led by Teodosic, who dished 10 assists before halftime, Serbia extended the margin to 21 points midway through the second quarter. It was 35-53 at halftime, and Serbia's win was never in question after the break as maestro Teodosic finished with 17 points and 13 assists to lead the way. Big man Miroslav Raduljica of Panathinaikos Athens added 20 points, and Kalinic had 15. Bobby Dixon of Fenerbahce scored 16 for Turkey. Spain kept Iceland winless with a 73-99 victory in the evening’s final game in Berlin. Two-time Euroleague Rising Star Nikola Mirotic led the way with 22 points, Pau Gasol scored 21, Euroleague champs and Real Madrid teammates Sergio Rodriguez and Felipe Reyes netted 13 and 11 points, respectively, and Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar forward Victor Claver also scored 11. Spain held a slim lead after 10 minutes, but a motivated Iceland went on a 14-4 run to take the lead. Spain regrouped to go into halftime ahead 36-41 and then came alive with 33 third-quarter points in taking its lead into the 20s and cruising the rest of the way. Jon Stefansson totaled 17 points and 6 assists for Iceland.
Greece secured first place in Group C when it beat Slovenia 83-72 on Wednesday in Zagreb to stay unbeaten. Greece dominated inside from the start, dominating the glass and grabbing 7 offensive rebounds and building 30-20 lead, before Vassilis Spanoulis ended the first half stringing together 10 points, including back-to-back threes for 46-31 halftime margin. But Slovenia refused to go away, and cut the deficit to 62-60 behind Jaka Blazic of Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade and Zoran Dragic of Khimki Moscow Region. However, Olympiacos Piraeus teammates Spanoulis and Georgios Printezis strung together 7 points, and helping their team pull away to another double-digit margin, and Greece never looked back. Among six players in double figures, Spanoulis had 19 points and 6 assists, and Printezis finished with 16. Blazic netted 27 for Slovenia, and Dragic bagged 22 in defeat. Croatia has second place in its sights after a come-from-behind 72-78 victory over the Netherlands. Croatia improved to 3-1 and sent the Dutch record to 1-3. EA7 Emporio Armani Milan scorer Krunoslav Simon came through with 18 points and 8 assists and Dario Saric of Anadolu Efes Istanbul amassed 15 points and 7 rebounds for the winners. The Netherlands held Croatia scoreless for four-and-a-half first-quarter minutes in building an 18-10 lead, which swelled to 34-22 midway through the second quarter. Croatia took charge from that point led by Bojan Bogdanovic’s 10 points to take a 35-39 halftime advantage. The lead grew to 12 late in the third quarter and despite a late Netherlands charge, Croatia held on. Roeland Schaftenaar stood out with 19 points in defeat. Georgia defeated The Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia 75-90 for its maiden win of the tournament. Zaza Pachulia dominated the paint to the tune of 23 points and 14 rebounds and Euroleague veteran Manuchar Markoishvili added 18 points on 4-of-6 three-point shooting for the winners. Georgia used a 0-13 run in the opening minutes to set the stage and never trailed after that. FYROM did close to within 37-40 late in the second quarter, but a 0-12 Georgia run that bridged halftime ended any doubts. Richard Hendrix of Unicaja Malaga and Damjan Stojanovski scored 14 points apiece for FYROM in defeat.
Tomas Satoransky of FC Barcelona Lassa was the big hero for the Czech Republic as it edged Belgium 64-66 in Riga and secured a place in the next round. The Czechs improved to 3-1 and will face Lithuania on Thursdya with first place in the group at stake. Belgium dropped to 2-2. In a game that had many lead changes and went down to the wire, Satoransky nailed a three-pointer with 35 seconds to go for a 62-64 lead and then grabbed a key defensive board and sank 2 free throws to seal the deal. Satoransky finished with 14 points and 9 assists, while Jan Vesely of Fenerbahce amassed 21 points and 12 rebounds in victory. Jonathan Tabu scored 12 for Belgium, and Sam Van Rossom of Valencia Basket had 7 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds, while Axel Hervelle of Dominion Bilbao Basket contributed with 5 points and 9 rebounds in a losing effort. Lithuania survived a serious challenge from Estonia to win 62-64 on an off-balance jumper by Euroleague champion and Real Madrid forward Jonas Maciulis in the closing seconds. Maciulis totaled 15 points and 10 rebounds as Lithuania claimed its third win and advanced. Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius center Antanas Kavaliauskas added 14 points and Zalgiris Kaunas’s Renaldas Seibutis scored 11. Lithuania used a 0-15 run that connected the second and third quarter to take a 31-41 lead early in the second half. Estonia used a big third quarter to regain control and led 62-55 with four minutes remaining. However the Estonian attack stalled at that point and Lithuania scored the game’s final 9 points, including Maciulis’s game-winner. Janar Talts led Estonia with 20 points. In Wednesday’s first game in Riga, Ukraine edged Latvia 74-75 first its first win of the tournament. Latvia scored the game’s first 7 points and led 21-14 after 10 minutes, but Ukraine closed the gap to 39-38 at halftime on Jerome Randle’s basket. Ukraine took its first lead early in the third quarter and eventually built a 7-point lead. Latvia rallied back and led by 6 midway through the fourth quarter, but an Oleksandr Lypovyy triple halved Ukraine’s deficit. It remained close the rest of the way. Lypovvy’s free throws with 15 seconds left gave Ukraine the lead and Janis Strelnieks of Brose Baskets Bamberg and Kristaps Janicenoks each missed on Latvia’s final possession. Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar big man Kyrylo Fesenko paced the Ukrainian attack with 21 points and 10 rebounds and Lypovyy added 15 points. Dairis Bertans of Dominion Bilbao Basket led Latvia’s scorers with 17 points and Kaspars Berzins of Nizhny Novgorod netted 13.