With just hours to go before the 4.30pm CET tipoff of Eurobasket 2009, time is running out for those willing to “make things interesting” with the ponying-up of a few Euros on the results.
The odds table over at Paddy Power looks like the following. (The first number represents out to take the tournament outright; the odds in parentheses represent payout should the team bet upon take first, second or third place overall.)
Spain 4/7 (1/7)
Greece 13/2 (13/4)
France 9/1 (9/4)
Lithuania 9/1 (9/4)
Serbia 12/1 (3/1)
Croatia 13/1 (13/4)
Slovenia 14/1 (7/2)
Turkey 20/1 (5/1)
Russia 33/1 (33/4)
Poland 60/1 (15/1)
Germany 100/1 (25/1)
Israel 150/1 (75/2)
Latvia 200/1 (50/1)
FYR Macedonia 300/1 (75/1)
Great Britain 300/1 (75/1)
Bulgaria 350/1 (175/2)
Spain and Greece have been the favorites to take Eurobasket since the groupings were announced, but while Team Spain has seen its odds get shorter, Greece’s are slowly lengthening. Apparently, the absence of Theo Papaloukas and Dimitris Diamantides is thought to be too much for the Greeks to overcome by many punters and any exit earlier than from the final four will be quite a shock – a “surprise” that today feels not at all unlikely.
Covering Spain is probably a good idea, but with odds this low, how conservative can you get?
Again, an advisory for those with heart conditions: Stay away from France. As a bettor, Les Bleus have been making me crazy since game one of the Additional Qualifying Round. On one hand, France could easily be 4-0 after four games with the weakest group of the four to begin with; on the other hand, this team has a maddening tendency to play its best when – and only when – their backs are against the wall. Those 9/4 odds on a top-three finish look pretty good, though.
Then we come to Lithuania, a sharp-looking team with names on the roster from top to bottom. I’ve already hedged on Kleiza for tournament MVP and so reckon his team to finish on the podium; this team should at least be playing in the championship game.
A dark horse pick? I’ll go Croatia, even without Marko Tomas, the last scratch from the roster sheet due to injury. (Hey, that’s why they call it a “dark horse pick.”)
Team Croatia starts stacked at the very top with coach Jasmin Repesa, one of the top leaders in this tournament. Underneath is led by a fearsome frontcourt combination of Nikola Vujcic and Mario Kasun, a duo that will take Croatia far in the generally small Group A; the likes of Zoran Planinic and Roko-Leni Ukic make for some sweet guard play as well.
Beyond the impressiveness of the recognizable names on this roster, however, is the ball distribution and balanced attack this team has shown this summer in the Efes Pilsen World Cup tournament and other friendlies. Nearly every game produces different top scorers and top rebounders for Croatia; this team may simply have too many weapons for most squads to stop them all. This 13/1 horse may be worth a ride.
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