The last 16 of EuroBasket 2022 is here and the Lions of Belgium will be looking to pull off the mother of upsets against Slovenia
All games from now on are at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin, Germany
14.45 CEST, 13.45 BST, 08.45 EST, 05.45 PST
How they got here
Belgium (3-2) got here the hard way as fourth and final seeds from Group A with wins over Georgia, Bulgaria, and, most notably, Spain. They suffered defeats to Montenegro and Turkey in a crowded mess of a group but it was that loss to Montenegro that cost them a shot at a better seeding and a more favourable draw in the last 16.
Slovenia’s lone defeat was in a classic with Bosnia. Slovenia had its share of classics through the group stages with great games in wins over Lithuania, Germany, and France. They also beat Hungary but that wasn’t memorable.
Need to know
Belgium appear to have come out of the weakest group in the whole tournament with nobody impressing really at any stage of the competition. The one big advantage they have is tremendous chemistry with this squad having been available throughout the in-season FIBA windows as well as the usual summer games. That’s a level of familiarity that’s not too common at this stage of the tournament.
Slovenia has been easily the most exciting team to watch in this tournament and there’s one obvious reason for that. Luka Doncic has been so good that he’s pulled off shots that wouldn’t work in NBA 2K and he has averaged 26.6 points (3rd in the tournament) 7.6 rebounds (11th) and 6.8 assists (6th) through the group phase. He’s a walking case for MVP right now and had the second highest single game score of all time with 47 in the win over France. Throw in solid stats from Vlatko Cancar and Goran Dragic as well and you can see why this looks to be the team to beat in the tournament.
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Well pity the poor Mavs, Bulls, and Nuggets fans getting up for this one. The game starts at 7.45am local time in Dallas and Chicago while Denver fans will need to switch on at 6.45am to watch Vlatko Cancar in action. That’s real determination all round. The style of Belgium means we can expect Slovenia to get a serious run out on the day despite rarely being likely to be in danger on the scoreboard. Type of team that’s not a bad workout for Luka and friends.
The Lions will be furious that they didn’t find a way into the top three in the group or even in the discussion for the 1 seed but there was no easy draw for any team coming out of Group A. The Group B teams that progressed are all stacked and it’s hard to have seen any logical route for the Lions to the last eight.
What do the bookies say?
As expected, Slovenia are unbackable at 1/20 while Belgium are available at 20/1. The point spread favours Slovenia by -18.5.
What do we say?
This is the easiest game to pick in the last 16, and I’m writing that before I know who Greece will face. Belgium have pluck but they’re way out of their depth here.
Slovenia to win and cover.