HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The top four spots at EuroBasket 2011 will be decided Sunday with defending champion Spain taking on France in Lithuania. They’ve both already clinched bids to the 2012 London Olympics, but there is still plenty to play for in a rivalry contest such as this one.
This is, after all, the battle for European basketball supremacy.
Russia and FYR Macedonia will battle it out in the bronze medal, having both already clinched spots in next summer’s Olympic qualifying tournament.
There were games played today, though. Consolation games (video above). Host-nation Lithuania edged Greece 73-69 in the fifth-place game. Both teams are headed for the qualifying tournament since the third through sixth-place teams in this competition earn automatic spots there.
Slovenia slipped by Serbia in the seventh-place game, finishing the competition on a winning note even though their Olympic dreams were already dashed.
The marquee matchup of the competition, of course, comes Sunday when global heavyweights Spain and France square off. Both of their rosters are stocked with NBA talent. Spain will be led by Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol, Juan Carlos Navarro, Serge Ibaka, Jose Calderon, Rudy Fernandez and Ricky Rubio. France counters with a loaded roster that includes Tony Parker, Joakim Noah, Nicolas Batum, Boris Diaw and Mickael Gelabale.
These two teams have an extensive history of battling each other, having played against each other 18 times in EuroBaskets. Spain has won all but three of those matchups, including a 96-69 win in the second round to win Group E of this competition, a contest that Parker and Noah sat out so they could rest up for the quarterfinals.
“On Sunday, Spain will be clear favorites. They have dominated the EuroBaskets for several years,” Batum said. “It’s the best team in the world behind Team USA. They are strong but not unbeatable. Anything can happen.”
Again, all four teams in action on the final day of the competition will play next summer, but only Spain and France are guaranteed to play in the Olympics.
|Field for 2012 Olympics|
|Field for 2012 Olympic Qualifying Tournament|