Group F got off to a wild start. Here’s what happened as the battle for quarter final places got under way.
Croatia started out making life tough for themselves in the first few minutes against Finland before taking control. Once they were on top, the Croats left no doubt. Finland, the darlings of the tournament for the geeks amongst us, had no answer to Croatia’s total dominance on the boards. The win was arguably more important for how comfortable Croatia looked en route to an 88-63 win. They may be hitting form at the perfect time.
While our power rankings for the first stage didn’t go over well with some readers, no-one questioned the X-factor of Vassilis Spanoulis. A Greek team featuring exactly zero players that had ever beaten Spain in a competitive game won with a great team effort but when you want one man to go beast mode, it’s pretty good to have Spanoulis on hand. The Olympiacos guard finished with 20 points, 3 assists, and 4 rebounds, in a 79-75 win.
The last game of the night pitted the tournament hosts, Slovenia, against an Italy team that went 5-0 in the first round. Slovenia led for most of the game but couldn’t shake the Italians. Down the stretch Italy kept on cutting the deficit to just one score but every time they did, Slovenia responded. That offensive might was enough to close the game out. Goran Dragic iced it with a dagger for three and the hosts took the win 84-77.
Before getting to the madness this causes in Group F, let’s take a second to salute the home crowd. Whenever Slovenia play, the arena is pumped. Now on to the craziness. Slovenia, Italy, and Croatia each hold 2-1 records. Finland, Spain, and Greece are all at 1-2. That makes Saturday’s slate important but far from decisive. This group is going down to the wire.