HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Six teams put the finishing touches on second round play at EuroBasket 2011 Monday in Lithuania.
But there was only one quarterfinal spot remaining in Group F play …
Slovenia 67, Finland 60 (Box Score)
The directive was simple for the Slovenia, win or go home. They did exactly what had to be done against Finland, aesthetics be darned. Sure, it wasn’t one of the prettier games played in this competition. But it was a win. And those have been tough to come by for Slovenia lately. Uros Slokar turned in a near-flawless effort off the bench with 13 points, eight rebounds and no turnovers in 22 minutes to spark Slovenia. Erazem Lorbek (14 points and six rebounds) and Zoran Dragic (10 points and four rebounds) delivered as well.
“Before the game we just told ourselves to relax and think how we can enjoy the game again,” Slokar said. “Go on the floor and try to be more relaxed. I think that’s something we managed to do. Finland played good but we kept them on a low score and that’s the key for our wins. Spain is favorite against any team in this tournament, but our goals are different than theirs. We will try to win and give 100 percent to win. If that would be enough it’s great, and if not we’re still going to be happy with the result because we gave 100 percent.”
With the win Slovenia earned a date against defending champion Spain, winners of Group E. So the challenge for Slovenia remains. And they’ll have to stay focused the entire way to have a chance against Spain, something they struggled to do against Finland. It took six straight points from Lorbek to hold off a Finland rally in the fourth quarter.
“We played with a lot of discipline and very strongly for 32 or 33 minutes with good defense,” said Slovenia coach Bozidar Maljkovic. “If there weren’t some mistakes during the final minutes of the game then I think we would have won more easily.”
Finland’s fate was sealed once it became clear that they could not win the battle on the boards (42-33) or the firepower to overcome a stronger Slovenia team. Petteri Koponen led Finland with 14 points and three assists. Shawn Huff added 13 points and four rebounds.
Greece 73, Georgia 60 (Box Score)
Even with a trip to the quarterfinals already secured, Greece still went out and handled its business against a Georgia team that finished the competition without the services of its top player, Hawks center Zaza Pachulia (calf injury), as well as George Tsintsadze. Greece rebounded from a tough loss at the hands of Russia and will not dive in against an equally powerful foe in France in Thursday’s quarterfinal tilt. Kostas Vasileaidis led Greece with 15 points. Ioannis Bourousis added 13 points off 6-of-8 shooting and Antonios Fostis 10 points and four rebounds.
Russia 63, Macedonia 61 (Box Score)
Sergey Monya’s 3-pointer at the buzzer thwarted Macedonia’s upset bid, preserved Russia’s unbeaten record and secured the Group F title. It’s the second time in this competition that Monya has played the hero with a last-second game-winner; his jumper in the closing seconds against Slovenia gave Russia the Group D title. Russia will put its perfect record on the line against Serbia in a quarterfinal matchup Thursday. Macedonia, led by our main man Bo McCalebb, will take on host nation Lithuania in a quarterfinal matchup Wednesday.