Mykola Jokic and company were nailed by a former UNICS player, Bayan Bogdanovic’s team was punished by Lauri Markkanen.
Poland — Ukraine — 94:86
Finland – Croatia – 94:86
Italy – Serbia – 94:86
Greece – Czech Republic – 94:88
France – Turkey – 87:86 (AD)
Slovenia – Belgium – 88:72
Germany – Montenegro – 85:79
Spain – Lithuania – 102:94 (AD)
1/4 of the final
Germany – Greece
Spain – Finland
Slovenia – Poland
France – Italy
If on Saturday all the favorites, albeit with difficulties, but overcame the first round of the Eurobasket playoffs, then on Sunday a couple of loud sensations took place. At number one, of course, is Serbia’s loss to Italy. The team under the leadership of Sviatislav Pesic very confidently overcame the group stage (five wins out of five, the average difference “+21”), and in the 1/8 finals without too much effort, they beat the Italians, who lost their main star Danilo Gallinari before the Eurobasket. But the failure of one quarter cost Nikola Jokic and his partners practically guaranteed medals. The Croatian national team is also going home. Bayan Bogdanovich, apparently, intends to take free kicks at the end of the group stage match with Ukraine… so as not to meet Slovenia in the 1/4 finals. The logic is clear, but this kind of math is usually punished in basketball. And so it turned out. Lauri Markkanen scored 43 points for the Croats and led Finland to the quarterfinals.
Before the EuroBasket, Serbia, along with France, was considered the main favorite of the tournament. True, the figure of the head coach of the Serbs raised questions. Yes, under Pešić, the national team last won a major tournament (World Cup 2002), but the former coach of “Barcelona” and “Dinamo” is already 73 years old. In recent years, Pešić ceased to be an interesting Euroleague club and was preparing to retire, but then came the request to lead the national team.
Pešić agreed, but openly surprised with the composition. He didn’t take the brilliant Milos Teodosic to the Eurobasket (yes, Theo is already 35 years old, but his statistics are still top), recruited a lot of players to the national team capable of doing rough work (Davydavac, Jagadzic-Kurija, Ristic), but he doesn’t see. Plus, Vasil Mitich (the team’s second star) and Mykola Milutinov came to the Eurobasket with injuries.
However, it was difficult to notice serious mistakes at the group stage. Nikola Jokic showed crazy statistics, and his partners supported him perfectly. But the playoffs came, and Pešić failed. Serbia confidently controlled the course of the match for three quarters with Italy. Apparently, the coach thought that the job was done and gave his leader a break. Without Jokic, the Italians made a 16:2 run.
Former UNIKS basketball player Marco Spisu became the best among the winners. The point guard showed fantastic statistics: 22 points (6/9 – three-pointers), 6 assists, 4 rebounds. The coefficient of usefulness is 29. And almost all long-range hits of the list came at the moment when Italy turned the tide of the meeting.
Serbia had 7 minutes left to fight back from a 10-point deficit, but all players on the roster were afraid to attack and gave the ball to Jokic. The Italians understood this and provided the MVP of the NBA with two powerful block shots (Nicola Melli and Simone Fontecchio).
The Serbians ended the tournament so shamefully. “We shocked the whole world,” said Italian coach Gianmarco Patzecko after the match, who was sent off during the match.
“I think the removal of our coach opened something inside us,” said Marco Spisu. – We started to play better in defense and made a lot of three-point shots. That got us back into the game. To beat such an opponent, experiencing difficulties with the lineup, is like a dream.”
Italy will face France in the quarter-finals. Vincent Collet’s team was also almost eliminated in the round of 16. Before the final quarter, Turkey led “+8”, and 12 seconds before the end of the fourth quarter, Jedi Osman made two free throws with a score of 77:75. Evan Fournier missed a layup on the final drive, but Rudy Gobert finished off the layup with a dunk to send the game into overtime with 2.5 seconds left before the final buzzer. In overtime, France pulled out the win thanks to the crucial loss of Furkan Karkmaz.
In overtime, the winner was also determined by Spain and Lithuania. The hero of the meeting was another player who played for UNICS last season. Lorenzo Brown had 28 points, 8 assists and 2 steals in 33.5 minutes on the floor: “I don’t even know what this team would look like without Lorenzo because they signed him this summer. But what is, is what it means,” lamented Lithuanian forward Mindovg Kuzminskas after the game. Indeed, even in Spain itself there was much discontent about the naturalization of the American point guard. Brown’s detractors in the Pyrenees should be less after the Lithuania game.
In the quarterfinals, “Red Fury” will face the resistance of the Finnish national team. And underestimating the opponent can lead to sad consequences. Croatia has already received 43 points from Markkanen. Let’s see what the experienced Sergio Scariola will come up with against the Utah forward. By the way, the Croats are eliminated from the second EuroBasket in a row at the 1/8 final stage. In 2017, they lost to the Russian national team.
Another achievement of Doncic
Slovenia became the only team that passed the round of 16 without problems. Another victim of Luka Doncic was Belgium. Dallas’ point guard scored 35 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals. He became the first player in the last 30 years to score 30+ points in three consecutive EuroBasket games. Next, the Slovenians will meet Poland, which managed to beat Ukraine. With 40 seconds to go, Ihor Milicic’s team led by only “+2”, but in a decisive attack, “Toronto” defender Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk made a fatal mistake. The hero of the match was the former captain of “Zenit” Matevush Panitka – 22 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals. Poland reached the EuroBasket quarterfinals for the first time in 25 years.
Germany and Greece will meet in another quarter-final. The Germans beat Montenegro thanks to Denis Schroeder’s 22 points, and the Greeks struggled to stop the Czech Republic. Before the start of the final quarter, the team of Dimitris Itoudis was losing “-4”, but thanks to the super game of their leader, they managed to change the course of the meeting. Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 27 points, 14 of them in the last 10 minutes.