This tournament just keeps getting better and better. Whether you dig the comeback or prefer a back-and-forth tug of war, Eurobasket 2009 had basketball lovers all smiles yesterday with a pair of fantastic contests truly reflecting the excellence of this field. And today there’s *four* more games? Nice.
Jumping right in, then…
France vs. Turkey. Former 5-0 teams meet in what could be the funnest game of the day. Until running into the Spanish buzzsaw, Team France really looked like the best team in this tournament. Since Les Bleus still have the 2010 FIBA Worlds well in mind while Turkey’s spot in that tournament is automatic as host nation, BiE will fearlessly predict the French sense of urgency gives them enough to win this game.
Russia v. Croatia. The defensive stalwarts take on another shoot-first-ask-questions-later squad in Croatia. Admirable though it is, the tenacity of Team Russia wasn’t enough to beat Greece in game two and the Reds are probably still tuckered out after the track meet Serbia subjected them to on Thursday. BiE fearless prediction: Expect lots of transition game and a Croatia victory.
Spain v. Greece. The pre-tournament favorites meet while experiencing momentum in mirror-opposite fashion. After blowing through the competition through four games, Greece fell against Russia, then France, and, had the heretofore clutch Ender Arslan’s shot gone through, if he’d found Hedo Turkoglu, or if a certain 24-second clock hadn’t been quite as dodgy, could easily be playing France today.
Spain, which started the tourney getting smoked by Serbia and later had troubles with Great Britain (!), is on a serious roll, is firing on all cylinders, and in short currently looks like the team Europe feared going into this thing. BiE fearless prediction: Vassilis Spanoulis goes for another monster game, but Spain overcomes.
Serbia v. Slovenia. Rebuilding, you say? Don’t describe Team Serbia as such anymore; they may be the youngest team in the tournament but, whoa, these guys can play. Blessed with a top-to-bottom roster and playing with attitude, this team will be scary for years to come.
But perhaps not this year: Slovenia has been *the* surprise of Eurobasket, beginning the tournament with the Sasha Vujcic conspiracy and the Beno Udrih injury, then proceeding to become the first Eurobasket team to six wins. The comeback last night against Croatia showed the Slovenians to be capable of outsmarting the opposition while again clamping down on a scoring machine when it counted most. BiE fearless prediction: Slovenia takes it, thereby officially registering the country’s highest-ever finish in Eurobasket.
Happy viewing, everybody! Today’s gonna be a great one…