The last 16 of EuroBasket 2022 is here and the first game of Sunday’s evening session sees Serbia take on Italy.
All games from now on are at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin, Germany
18.00 CEST, 17.00 BST, 12.00 EST, 09.00 PST
How they got here
Serbia (5-0) rolled to a perfect record in Group D, beating Netherlands, Czech Republic, Finland, Israel, and Poland by and average margin of 21 points per game.
Italy (3-2) meanwhile had quite a ride. After trouncing Estonia, they had a close loss to Greece before getting beaten out of the building by Ukraine. They rebounded with a comeback victory over Croatia before destroying a hapless Great Britain team in their final group game.
Need to know
Italy ride or die with Simone Fontecchio. His shooting form has been variable, to put it kindly, as he’s had a few outings where it looked like he couldn’t hit anything. That said, even when his shooting is off, Fontecchio has found a way to impact the game positively for his side be that with tenacious D or turning creator for his team mates.
There’s a reason Serbia were pre-tournament favourites despite missing NBA stars like Nemanja Bjelica, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and, hero of this site, Boban Marjanovic. Nikola Jokic, obviously, is the megastar but he’s got serious back-up in Vasilije Micic and Vladimir Lucic amongst others. This is a strong side but one that has lost Nemanja Nedovic for the rest of the tournament through injury, which means they’ll need to make some adjustments to their back court rotations.
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Serbia really wants gold. Everyone does but this is a nation that has got silver at World Cup (2014), Olympic (2016), and EuroBasket (2017) level in recent times without winning the big one. It’s largely seen as normal for Serbia to be good at basketball but the depth of talent it has in world sport is remarkable. For a nation of 7 million people, it performs at the level of a nation three times its size at international sport.
Italy have been awfully reliable for making quarter finals in EuroBasket over the years. They made the last 8 in 2013, 2015, and 2017, all with rosters of varying talent levels and expectations. It’s generally just been a sure thing over the past decade that Italy would get through their first knockout game.
What do the bookies say?
Serbia are big favourites at 1/5 while Italy are priced at 47/10. The point spread favours Serbia by -9.5.
What do we say?
There seems to be some desire by basketball Twitter to make this competitive but Italy simply didn’t show enough in Milan, where they had a home crowd, to make me think they could compete with an organised Serbia team that is built to win tournaments.
Serbia with the points.