The last 16 of EuroBasket 2022 is here and Sunday begins with Ukraine taking on Poland as neighbours become rivals on the hardwood
All games from now on are at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin, Germany
12.00 CEST, 11.00 BST, 06.00 EST, 03.00 PST
How they got here
Ukraine (3-2) were tipped for the fourth seed coming out of Group C but following wins over Great Britain and Estonia, they pulled off the shock of the group with a big win over Italy. That was followed by losses to Greece and Croatia but, overall, they have to be thrilled to have come out of Milan with the 2 seed.
Poland (3-2) meanwhile weren’t even tipped by me to get out of their group but wins over Czech Republic, Israel, and Netherlands locked up their spot quickly and their losses were to an impressive Serbia side and Finland.
Need to know
Ukraine are a very functional team with one joyous source of chaos ensuring they don’t become too predictable. Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and Alex Len bring the star power but Issuf Sanon is the breathing spirit of this side that befuddles opponents, with him even managing to put Giannis Antetokounmpo on his ass twice in the loss to Greece.
Poland may be the strangest side in the tournament, defined by the hot and cold outings of AJ Slaughter who dismantled Czech Republic and Israel but was almost wholly ineffective in his side’s other three games. Which version of Slaughter shows up here may well define how well Poland perform.
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Poland is more than familiar with the last 16 stage but you’ve got to go all the way back to 1997 for their last appearance in the quarter finals. That tournament holds a special place in my heart as Sasa Đorđević’s three for Yugoslavia to beat Croatia was the moment that I fell fully in love with European basketball.
Ukraine have far more recent experience of making it to the quarter finals, getting there in 2013 and punching their ticket to the following year’s World Cup in the process, the latter I only mention because a 17 year old Svi Mykhailiuk made his first appearance in a major tournament for Ukraine at Spain 2014. Expect any neutrals in the arena to favour Ukraine from the stands, especially if the Lithuanian fans recover from their Saturday night out in time to get to the game.
What do the bookies say?
This is fairly tight with oddsmakers but Ukraine are favoured at 53/100 while Poland are 17/10. The point spread favours Ukraine by -4.5.
What do we say?
I just can’t buy Slaughter being able to be the all-conquering beast he was against a weakened Czech side and a mess of an Israel team in this one. Ukraine’s D should be able to limit him and without that spark, I don’t see Poland winning.
Ukraine to win and cover.