Four more games’ worth of EuroBasket 2009 preliminary action go off this evening, with two matches in the Additional Qualifying Round and two Relegation Round to be played. Euroleague/BallinEurope sponsor SportingBet.com naturally has the lines, and Ball in Europe just as naturally has some informational tidbits and opinions.
First of the AQR games tonight will be Finland vs. Italy. File this one under Oh, How The Mighty Have Fallen: Perceived to be so strong going into this tournament, Team Italy has been reduced to getting just 20/31 odds to beat unsung Finland, whose odds sit at just 5/4. Really? What do the bookmakers know here? Isn’t this kind of a statement game for the Italians?
The most compelling bet here might be Italy in the handicap bet; they’re giving just two points in the pointspread or 2.5 with the “Asian handicap.” You also have to like the under in the over/under bet at 150.5, and boy that “First Team to Score” wager (both teams are getting 9/10 odds) is amazingly tempting – talk about your potential immediate gratification/heartbreak…
At 7pm BST, Belgium and Portugal tip it off. Team Portugal is rapidly gaining a poor reputation in international basketball world with recent losses to teams like New Zealand, Cape Verde, and most recently Bosnia & Herzegovina in this tourney. Sporting Bet has Portugal at the stunningly long odds of 17/4 to take this game, while Belgium – by the sportsbook, anyway – is forecasted to roll with odds of 13/100. Here’s to thinking the Portuguese death spiral continues.
Meanwhile, things are really cooking over in the Relegation Round. Over there, Czech Republic beat Hungary, which beat Ukraine, which beat Estonia, which beat the Czech Republic, producing a group in which four teams are 1-1 and what in the name of Naismith is going on here? Your guess is as good as anyone’s.
In the early game, it’s Hungary hosting Czech Republic in Szolnok, the same location of the Hungarians’ immolation of Team Ukraine before a bloodthirstily packed house. Surely, the Magyars’ 13th man is tilting the odds way in Hungary’s favor, with Sporting Bet currently giving them 2/9 odds to win, versus a relatively paltry 3/1 for Estonia – this despite the fact that the stats run up by these squads in the AQRs have been nearly identical.
While Estonia would seem to have a slight advantage in the paint, Hungary has proven (even in the loss to the Czechs) its skill in hitting the jumpshot from anywhere on the floor. If ever there was a case for taking the “draw” result (odds 18/1), this could be it. Also: Take Estonia plus-7 in the pointspread and pray that Team Hungary doesn’t screw you by a half-point like they so memorably did in the last game.
Finally, there’s Czech Republic vs. Ukraine and if you’re still wondering exactly how A) Czech Republic lost to Estonia and B) Ukraine beat Estonia, you’re not alone. Welcome to an especially wacky EuroBasket AQR. Czech Republic’s the big favorite here at 3/20, while Ukraine is fit for the bouncing, it seems, at 4/1.
SportingBet.com is offering more lines, odds and handicap betting on these games as well — oh, that “First Team to Score” bet… Click on either logo or banner at right for more information. Good luck, all!