On To The Next Phase At EuroBasket

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – With the initial phase of EuroBasket 2011 in the books it’s time to cast an eye toward the start of the second round, which kicks off Wednesday, and take a quick look back at some of the highlights and highlight-makers from preliminary play.

We’ve gone from four groups of six to two groups of six for the second round:

Group E

  • France, 2-0
  • Serbia, 1-1
  • Spain, 1-1
  • Turkey, 1-1
  • Lithuania, 1-1
  • Germany, 0-2

Group F

  • Macedonia, 2-0
  • Russia, 2-0
  • Slovenia, 1-1
  • Greece, 1-1
  • Georgia, 0-2
  • Finland, 0-2

A couple of serious contenders are going to be sent packing in Group E, since only the top four teams advance to the quarterfinals. There are a couple of surprise teams in Group F, so there is still a chance that a Macedonia or Finland crashes the championship round.

As you can probably tell, group play results actually matter in this tournament (the results of games against teams that have made it this far are reflected in the records above).

Germany-Spain, Turkey-France and Serbia-Lithuania highlight Wednesday’s action while Georgia-Macedonia, Finland-Russia and Slovenia-Greece will be on center stage Thursday.

In order to make it this far, though, these 12 remaining teams had to grind through a rugged field of 24 to get here. And we’ve got a few awards (team and individual, you know how we do it here at the hideout) that need to be handed out before we move on:

Group Play MVP: Tony Parker, France. A point guard was walking away with this award. It was either Parker or Serbia’s Milos Teodosic, who has quickly earned HT fave status for his magnificent play in this competition. Parker has been the driving force behind the team playing the best, to this point, in the competition. And he’s showing off his all-around game, the one he rarely gets credit for while working his regular job. For those of us who have watched Parker mature over the years, from the young teenage point guard project the San Antonio Spurs drafted years ago to the Finals MVP and dynamic floor general he has become, his performance here should not be a revelation. Still, we will give him his just due. He’s performed better than anyone else in this tournament.

Most Surprising Team Headed Into The Next Round: Macedonia. We’ve been talking about Bo McCalebb, Pero Antic and F.D.R. Macedonia since before they got on that roll and reeled off three straight wins to secure their spot in this round (they finished it off with a fourth straight win Sunday over Bosnia and Herzegovina). Before the competition began we quizzed a coach and player from another team before the competition to find out the players and teams we should be aware of and no one from Macedonia was so much as mentioned. We’re going to expand our interview list next time around.

Most Surprising Not Headed Into The Next Round: Croatia. Needing a win over Greece Sunday to get through to the next round, Croatia simply couldn’t dial-up the right performance when they needed it most. More was expected out of this crew with Bojan Bogdanovich and Ante Tomic leading the way, a team with rich tradition and top six finishes in EuroBasket 2009 and 2007. Instead, they finished play in Group C with a 2-3 record and are now left to watch the London Olympics from the crowd like the rest of us.

Hate To See You Leave: Luol Deng and Great Britain won’t be sticking around for this next phase. And that’s too bad, because Deng made a strong case of his own for Group Play MVP honors. His 28 points, 14 rebounds and six assists in Sunday’s win over Poland turned out to be a fitting going away present. The good thing is we’ll see him in London next summer anyway, since the host nation team already has its bid for the Olympics locked up.

Moving On By The Skin Of Their Teeth: Turkey. They needed a win from Great Britain over Poland Sunday to secure their ticket to the second round. It’s not like they didn’t help themselves with that huge win over previously unbeaten and defending champion Spain earlier today. They obviously needed that win as well to make it here. But with Great Britain’s up and down performances in this competition, there was no guarantee that they’d provide the assist Turkey needed.

Best Game Of the Competition, So Far: France’s overtime win over Serbia from earlier today is the winner, with unblemished Russia’s win over a previously unbeaten Slovenia (on Sergey Monya‘s jumper with :00.2 to play for the top spot in Group D) finishing a close second.

France-Serbia had a buzzer-beating flair to it as well, although with a decidedly different outcome.

Parker had a chance to end this one in regulation but missed an 18-foot fadeaway at the buzzer. Serbia went up 96-95 on Marko Keselj 3-pointer with 24 seconds left in overtime. But instead of playing straight defense to try to finish the game, Serbia fouled Parker (to make sure they got the ball back). He drained both free throws with 19 seconds left for a 97-96 lead. The plan worked to perfection until Dusko Savanovic, wide open on the left block with four seconds to play, missed an easy bank shot that would have won the game.

As my main man John Schuhmann reminded me tonight, five of Serbia’s nine games in last year’s World Championship in Turkey were decided by three points or less. You’re almost guaranteed a thriller when they hit the floor in a competition like this.

The best part, we’ll see Serbia (and 11 other quality teams) again in the second round.

22 Comments

  1. Gjorgi says:

    I see some are commenting on foreign-born players playing for their adoptive countries in Eastern Europe. And tying success of those teams to the presence of such players, especially american- born.
    It takes team effort to be the leading team of the tournament in balls stolen, and third best in rebounds (Macedonia), that’s not just one or two american-born players. One Bo McCaleb can’t be everywhere all the time. Infact, the biggest lead that Macedonia produced against Georgia was when Bo was benched with a minor injury. Yes, at the end Bo sank the dagger. And he has been magnificent throughout.
    As for comments from greek fans here, I would encourage them to keep those chauvinist comments coming. So that the rest of the world would see what else was at stake with that game, and see what is Macedonia up against. Greek TV that showed the game purposely obscured parts where the “Macedonia” or the Macedonian flag would show up on the screen during the game, including the scoreboard part that shows which team is Greece playing against. When it became obvious that Greeks are loosing the game, they obscured the part of the screen where the score and time left are shown.
    Wesconsin, this is a european tournament. No Aussies here. :))
    And yes Hasib, I agree with you. But none of those teams are there by chance.

  2. hasib says:

    Group F sucks but group E is stacked, that’s so unfair

  3. Joe says:

    Macedonia is not winning only because of McCalebb of course he is scoring like a lunatic, but their offense sucks. They are playing counter attacks, and the main reason that they are winning is because they have the best defense in Lithuania at this moment and the influence of the their captain Antic on the team. In offense they seem confused and 90% of the attacks are led by McCalebb, but in defense it is a different story. All of them are like rocks stable and clean, they don’t waste fouls and play really good strategy.

  4. Philippos K says:

    Check again. It’s recognized as F.Y.R.O.M from UN and NATO! You can just check their websites!

  5. Philippos K says:

    The thing with nationalized Americans has to atop sometime. It’s clearly cheating. Without Bo McCalebb Skopje wouldn’t even get a win. The only team that hasn’t got a nationalized American is Greece that i know off. And don’t start about Koufos or Bramos. They are 100% Greek with 2 Greek parents, just born in USA. Don’t tell me McCalebb is a black Slav? HAHAHA :P

    • Peter says:

      @ Philippos K,my dear friend,why are you bringing politics into sports?After a Macedonian flag was waved in Zagreb,Greece protested,and as a result FIFA levied 20,000 Euro againts the Croatian team.On another occasion,Greece and Cypros walked out for the oppening of another event.At China Olympics Bekoyanis protested to the Macedonia name.Calm yourselves my friend,its only sport.Ah,wait,the Hellens done it to the Ancient Macedonians.This pattern continues even today.Anyway,I am thrilled with Macedonias win over Greece,and Lithuanias win to advance.By the way,there are plenty Macedonians who are playing in Greece and Cypros in football,Ha,Ha,Ha!

  6. Nenad says:

    @Alex:The United States formally recognized Macedonia by its constitutional name which is REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA so i don’t see what’s the problem here.
    When in comes to Finland I agree that they have done an amazing job by getting through the next round and no one expected that, but you all must admit that they had a lot of luck because Finland finished with 7 points as Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina did and Macedonia played a huge part in their success with the win over Bosnia and Herzegovina in the last match. On the other hand Macedonia got 4 wins in 5 games including wins over “favorites” Greece and Croatia while Finland lost both games with the “favorites”.

    • Baron says:

      You are absolutely right. Finland did have help from Macedonia and were lucky. Then again even though they won only 2 games they lost to Croatia by 5 and Macedonia by 2 so with a little luck it could have been that Finland would have had 4 wins to proceed to next round. But losing is losing 2-5-20 points matters little. And what ifs dont get very far. Still I am proud of the way team Finland has played and my opinion is biased on the matter. ;)

  7. cpesh says:

    where would Germany be without Dirk? Seriously, why do you guys always seem to forget the tall blond German? Still underrated after MVP plus now a ring?

  8. Alex says:

    You really need to stop refering to Fyrom as Macedonia at some point….

  9. wesconsin says:

    Where is Australia? why they aint in the competition?

  10. Clone says:

    You could add “The Most Corrupted Game: France – Serbia”… 2 referees /3 were totally blind srsly. Serbia got more then help in this game, they should have lost by 10+.. French team really diserved that win

  11. Darko says:

    Everybody says Macedonia qualified because we had a naturalized player, Bo Mccaleb, playing for us and with that they undermine the effort put into this competition by our other players. And what about Draper (Croatia), Domercant (Bosnia), Rowland (Bulgaria)…and many other players who play as naturalized players. And i suppose Serge Ibaka is a pure blooded Spaniard and Tony Parker is as French as Gerard Depardieu. Even the best player of this Eurobasket, Luol Deng isn’t playing for the country of his birth

    • Enzato says:

      I agree with the first part of your comment but… I don’t think that we should mix TP’s case with Serge Ibaka’s or other players like him who where lately naturalized.

      Tony Parker is not a naturalized player. He has lived in France since his childhood (he was 3 Weeks old !) and learned how to play basketball in French clubs. He’s as french as Gérad Depardieu … We don’t care about origins… we only like Basketball …

      I’m Portuguese and i’ve been living in France for a few years. A country with its defects but where everybody can come from any country in the World and feel at home. Like in the USA. We are proud to be composed by people from several countries. Melting Pot is wealthyness…

      Peace
      Enzato

  12. Callum Catto says:

    I think Finland and Georgia getting through, just shows how much stronger the competition was in group A nd B.

    Infact I would say 5 of the top 6 sides are in that side of the draw. You have got to feel for the team that finishes 5th in group E and also GB, Poland, Isreal and Italy. Who all could have had a shot at a Quarter Final place in the other half of the draw.

  13. Baron says:

    Most Surprising Team Headed Into The Next Round: Macedonia.
    Not wanting to take anything away from Macedonia who have had a much greater success then was expected of them but c’mon seriously? The REAL surprise here must be team Finland. Qualifying through extra qualification round. Being a serious underdog the whole way. Think they were given 6:1 odds in their first game against Croatia. The one they lost in last minute by 5. No nationalized Americans. Huff and Lee are both born Finnish players and second generation Finns. First time in the history of Finnish basketball in European top 12. No NBA players: One ex-NBA Hanno Möttölä and one 1st round reservation in Petteri Koponen. FIBA rank 79.

  14. Kestas says:

    Group F is pretty much a done deal (sorry Finland and Georgia). The remaining four teams will battle till the last second though, as nobody there wants to face the best teams from group A in the quarterfinals. Germany with Nowitzki and Caman are the group A outsiders, which is a perfect illustration of the group’s strength and balance. Whatever the outcome of the Group A battles, it will be a shock to the supporters (and possibly end of careers for coaches) of 5th and 6th teams as all six teams there have declared they came to the tournament for the Olympic spots.

  15. Larry says:

    C’mon, Mr Smith… Finland didn’t need a nationalisized american like McCalebb to qualify. Finland made history. First time in the competition since -95 (when every game by a terrible margin) and 2 win plus 2 last minute losses to a favourite, Croatia and to Macedonia. Now they’re amongst the TOP 12. Why underappreciate this?

    • George says:

      Check again Finland team they also have one nationalisized american.

      • Mikko Kurhila says:

        Actually FInland doesn’t have a single nationalized americans. They have two players whose father is american but both of them have been born in Finland. So they have been Finnish citizens from their very first day.

  16. lord p says:

    The consistency of France team surprise me a lot..i knew before that Tony P should be the best point guard in the competition,nicolas batum an all around player but a like a team they Grow a lot in these past 8-9 months..to get at the point they’re now..They’re a complete team..!!i should love to see them in final!!

  17. Dejan says:

    I agree with the most of what have been said here. Only about Group Play MVP I think without any doubts should be Bo McCalebb. I don’t have anything against Tony Parker and I think he is a great player and everything you have said about him here is true. But, what Bo McCalebb have done with Macedonia, is simply amazing! He was true leader and he have a lot of credits for Macedonia taking the first place in the group with four wins and only one unlucky defeat from Montenegro in the additional time when Bo McCalebb was not playing!