HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – They say styles make fights in boxing.
Same goes for basketball, in our opinion. And we can’t think of a better one than what we’ll see when Turkey and host team Lithuania lock up Friday. It’s certainly one of the most intriguing games, along with the Germany-France matchup, of the first phase of EuroBasket 2011.
But before we get a chance to enjoy that one, we have to catch up on all the Day 2 happenings. Our roundup …
Turkey 90, Great Britain 61 (Box Score)
It’s pretty obvious after just two games that Turkey has everything you need to make some serious noise in this competition. They have a strong inside presence, led by Omer Asik, Oguz Savas and bolstered by the likes of Enes Kanter. They have plenty of long-distance firepower, courtesy of Omer Onan and Emir Preldzic. And they have the sort of savvy veteran presence (that would be you, Hedo Turkoglu) necessary to survive a crisis. This one was over before it got started.
- An early 3-point barrage (4-for-7) was the difference for Turkey as they rushed to a 17-3 lead and never looked back. Onan was 4-for-5 from deep and Preldzic 2-for-3. They led the winners in scoring.
- Much like Dirk Nowitzki used to do in some of these competitions, Luol Deng will have to settle for being the most talented player on the court most nights. Great Britain isn’t quite deep enough or simply good enough to match a team of Turkey’s caliber.
- Turkey went off on a 13-0 run in the second quarter, including nine from Kanter, and used a relentless 20-4 run to blow the game open. Kanter did his best work during that stretch, scoring nine of his 11 points. His offensive game is much more advanced than we realized. He was also one of four players to score in double figures for the winners.
France 85, Israel 68 (Box Score)
Watching Joakim Noah do his dirty work never gets old for us. The same fire he displays when playing for the Bulls was on display in France’s rout of Israel. Noah’s nine points and nine rebounds served as a nice tone-setter for a team that looked much better on Day 2 than it did in the opener. With Chris Kaman and Germany up next, followed by games against Italy and Serbia, France will need every bit of energy Noah can muster in the coming days.
- Tony Parker is a cut above most any other point guard he will face in the competition and the first two days have done nothing to change our minds about that. Parker was knocking down shots from everywhere and his 21 points and eight assists led the way.
- Mickael Gelabale, you might remember him from his NBA days in Seattle, looked good. He finished with 13 points and made all three of his shots from beyond the 3-point line.
- France doesn’t have the most physically intimidating frontcourt rotation. That said, a combined 11 points and 16 rebounds from Boris Diaw and Kevin Seraphin is a luxury plenty of teams would love to have.
Russia 65, Georgia 58 (Box Score)
Not being there in person makes it impossible to gauge the in-arena intensity of certain games. But we had a little cheat sheet for this one, having traded messages with Georgia and Hawks big man Zaza Pachulia in the days leading up to the competition. He made it clear that this was one of the games Georgia had circled. And it showed in what was a grinding defensive affair. Russia’s defensive pressure, particularly on Pachulia, is ultimately what helped them survive this one.
- Andrei Kirilenko‘s big game against Georgia came in much the same fashion as his stellar work the day before. He logged his second straight 20-point game, knocking down nine of his 15 shots in this one to go along with his four rebounds and three steals.
- Pachulia’s 3-for-11 shooting effort and an equally dismal 4-for-10 effort from Viktor Sanikidze certainly made things much tougher on Georgia. But they managed to stay in this one until they hit a five-minute dry spell late in the fourth quarter. Manuchar Markoishvili led Georgia with 21 points.
- You can go ahead and add Russia’s Sergey Monya to the list of players we’ve spotted in this competition that we had basically lost track of since their NBA days. The ex-Blazer and ex-King had a nice game (12 points, drained three 3-pointers).
Greece 81, Finland 61 (Box Score)
This wasn’t a fair fight. Greece exploited the soft center of Finland’s defense early and often, scoring 30 of their first 33 points in the paint to coast in this one. Ioannis Bourousis led Greece with 19 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks. Petteri Koponen led Finland with 21 points.
Spain 87, Portugal 73 (Box Score)
The defending EuroBasket champs got in on the beat down act on Day 2, wearing out their neighbors from Portugal with a thorough beating from all angles. The lead was 53-36 at halftime. Pau Gasol (20 points) and Marc Gasol (10 points, nine rebounds) had their way inside while “The Stockbroker” (our man Juan Carlos Navarro) and Rudy Fernandez did plenty of damage from the perimeter. Ricky Rubio even rebounded from his ugly first day and played respectably, finishing with five points, four rebounds and two assists.
Macedonia 78, Croatia 76 (Box Score)
We had to do some digging into the HT archives to figure out if and where we might have seen Macedonia’s Bo McCalebb before. Our search turned up empty. It’s a good thing McCalebb didn’t do the same for Macedonia in their monumental upset of Croatia. He was one of the heroes (19 points and five assists) in what is this competition’s biggest upset, so far. We’d never heard of McCalebb, the former University of New Orleans standout, before this week. Something tells us he won’t have to worry about going unnoticed in Macedonia anytime soon.
McCalebb will have to box out Vlado Ilievski for top dog honors overnight. Ilievski’s running jumper with just 11 seconds to play proved to be the winning margin in Macedonia’s comeback stunner, they trailed by double digits late in the third quarter. Ilievski finished the game with 18 points, three rebounds and three assists.
Germany 76, Italy 62 (Box Score)
Dirk Nowitzki won’t have to tote the entire load for Germany in this competition, even if the reigning NBA Finals MVP seems more than up to that task. He won’t have to because he’s got Chris Kaman on his side. It was a devastating performance from Kaman, along with the usual from Nowitzki (21 points, 12 rebounds and clutch buckets in crunch time), that proved too much for Italy in this game.
- After struggling early on offense, Kaman found his way when it mattered most. He finished with 17 points and 17 rebounds, but was at his best in the fourth quarter, when he pounded Italy for 10 points and eight rebounds.
- Now 0-2 in group play, Italy is going to need some EuroBasket magic to make it to the competition’s next stage. While they’ve shown flashes of being a competitive team they simply have not been able to do it well enough and long enough for it to matter.
- Study the 3-point shooting numbers from this game and you’ll have all the answers you need about Italy. They made just six of their 25 shots from deep. Germany was 7-for-12. Game over.
- Germany’s matchup with France Friday is a must-see game.
Slovenia 68, Ukraine 64 (Box Score)
Mike Fratello‘s Ukraine team appeared to be finished trailing by 22 points in the third quarter. But if you turned away then you missed a wild comeback and finish to this game. Slovenia held on, but it was much more difficult than it needed to be for a team that put went into cruise control much too early.
- Slovenia committed just 10 turnovers through the first three quarters and then promptly fell apart with nine in the fourth quarter alone. It was tough to watch, even on a laptop. They were clinging to a 60-57 lead with 2:32 to play and finally woke up before giving this game away.
- Mirza Begic had a big game for Slovenia, finishing with 14 points and seven rebounds in just 22 minutes. He battled the Ukraine’s bigs every second he was on the floor, helping to neutralize their size advantage. Slovenia won the rebounding battle 39-23.
- Kyrylo Fesenko showed off some nice offensive moves and scored easily (4-for-5, 11 points), but he was a ghost on the glass, finishing with just one rebound in his 15 minutes. Fratello needed a stronger performance in that area from one of the biggest men in the competition.
Bulgaria 68, Belgium 65 (Box Score)
Deyan Ivanov played a fantastic final minute and a half to help Bulgaria pull this one out. He came up with a huge offensive rebound, then followed with a steal and a mid-range jumper to give his team the lead for good. He missed his first nine shots from the floor and struggled mightily before playing the hero late. “I didn’t play well for 30 minutes but I’m happy I managed to step up in the right moments and help our team win this game,” he told reporters after the game. “We are so happy to finally win in EuroBasket after all this time.”
Lithuania 97, Poland 77 (Box Score)
The host nation’s talent and depth is obvious. And it was on full display in this rout. Mantas Kalnietis led them with a game-high 19 points and was perfect from the floor. Darius Songaila finished with 14 points on 7-for-10 shooting from the floor in just 17 minutes. As we mentioned earlier, teams with an array of talent, both seasoned (like Songaila) and younger (like Toronto’s Jonas Valanciunas, who looked much better in his second outing) blended together in a cohesive unit. They’ll have one of the showcase games Friday when they square off with that unbeaten team from Turkey.
Bosnia-Herzegovina 94, Montenegro 86 (Box Score)
Nihad Dedovic turned in a stellar all around effort as Bosnia-Herzegovina whipped Montenegro to earn their first win. Dedovic finished with 19 points, on 6-for-7 shooting from the field, and added five rebounds and five assists for the winners. He was far from alone in shooting the Montenegro out of this game, though. The winners stroked 45 percent of their shots from long distance (15-for-33) and controlled the action from the start. Nikola Pekovic and Omar Cook (yes, that Omar Cook) scored 16 points each to lead Montenegro.
Serbia 92, Latvia 77 (Box Score)
After a strong showing in a win over Italy to kick off the competition, Serbia came back for Day 2 and looked even better. They wore out the youngest team in the tournament behind the heavy lifting of one of the more familiar names, at least for those of us here, in Nenad Krstic. Dusko Savanavic added 19 points and five rebounds for the winners.
- We don’t get to see Krstic in this sort of role much in the NBA. But he showed he is still more than capable of being the offensive catalyst for his team in international play. His 23 points came on 7-for-10 shooting from the floor and a perfect 9-for-9 showing at the free throw line.
- It never hurts to have a solid point guard running the show for you. And Serbia has a good one in Milos Teodosic, who orchestrated their attack to perfection. He finished with nine points and nine assists and kept control of things the entire game.
- That youngest team in the competition tag isn’t lost on Latvia’s competition. They know they are catching this group at the right time. “Latvia reminds me of my team two years ago,” said Serbian coach Dusan Ivkovic.