HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS (NEW JERSEY BUREAU) – Sixteen teams have gone home from EuroBasket, their Olympic hopes dashed. Eight teams remain, playing for two Olympic berths and four spots at next summer’s last-chance qualifying tournament.
Russia is the only undefeated team entering the quarterfinals, but Spain remains the favorite and, statistically, was the most dominant team in pool play. Each team has only played eight games, so we’re dealing with small sample sizes here. But when we look at offensive and defensive efficiency, we can get a good idea of how each team qualified for elimination-round play.
Pace = Possessions per 40 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions
The numbers show that there’s a clear delineation between the top three teams (Spain, Russia and Lithuania) and the rest. But all eight teams deserve to be where they are, finishing pool play in the top nine in point differential.
Of course, Turkey fans might disagree. Their team finished fourth in point differential, outscoring their opponents by 7.1 points per 100 possessions. Turkey was one of three teams to rank in the top 10 both offensively (10th) and defensively (sixth), and if Ersan Ilyasova‘s jumper at the end of Sunday’s game against Serbia had went through the net, they’d be moving on.
Three of the four quarterfinals will be matchups of top-five offenses vs. top-five defenses. The most intriguing one may be Lithuania’s No. 1 offense vs. FYR Macedonia’s No. 3 defense. Still, you have to wonder if Lithuania can sustain their ridiculous efficiency for three more games.
The key to Lithuania’s No. 1 offense has been hot shooting. They have an effective field-goal percentage* of 0.593, shooting 56.1 percent from inside the arc and a ridiculous 45.2 percent from 3-point range. The good news is that they’re not depending too much on threes. Only 27 percent of their shots have come from beyond the arc, which is the second-lowest rate in the tournament.
*Effective field-goal percentage = (FGM + (0.5*3PM))/FGA
Interestingly, Lithuania won bronze at last year’s World Championship with only the tournament’s eighth-best offense. They ranked fourth defensively.
Russia, which boasts this tournament’s No. 1 defense, ranked fifth defensively at the World Championship. Perhaps Andrei Kirilenko, who didn’t play last summer, is the difference.
Either way, that No. 1 defense has kept Russia perfect so far and will make them tough to beat going forward.