After 11 games and ups and downs, France and Lithuania enter Sunday’s EuroBasket 2013 final with a clean slate. The only thing that matters is who is in front when the final buzzer sounds.
Key man: Tony Parker He is the tournament’s top scorer and unquestionably its biggest star. Whatever else happens in Ljubjana today, you can bet your house that Tony Parker will get buckets and lots of them today. It’s not the array of honours he’s won with the San Antonio Spurs that makes him a marked man today. Parker has done enough in the blue jersey of France to make the continent aware of what he can do. Lithuania will be tempted to overload on Parker but given nobody has been able to stop him so far, there’s a more important area to focus in stifling the French offence.
Key match-up: Batman vs Lithuania’s rotations Nicolas Batum has had some good games in this tournament but he’s also been awful for lengthy stretches. In Friday’s semi final against Spain, when Spain’s guards not called Rodriguez were having issues, Batman could have played a big role for Les Bleus. Save for one three late in the game he was anonymous throughout. This simply won’t do tonight. What Lithuania lack in star power they more than make up for in depth. No team has the options of Lithuania at both ends. Yes, France have a better 1-7 but the Lithuanian bench is deep. They are going to keep players fresh and rotate at will. The big question is where the threat will come from. Different players have carried the load throughout this Slovenian adventure, Batum must find a way to hurt all of them.
What to watch: The most basic box score lines Considering how advanced analytics have become, it’s almost disappointing to see that two of the most fundamental stats in the game will tell us the most. Turnovers could hurt Lithuania severely if France get an early edge so ball security and the raw numbers on Lithuania’s side will be worth keeping an eye on. For France it’s even more basic: Field Goal Percentage. Yup. Les Bleus have endured outings where their shooting has been so bad it hasn’t required any deep assessment to see what the problem is. France need to shoot better. It’s really that simple.
Oh and you should also watch this video by Coach Nick.
The call Considering how bad BiE’s picks have been in recent rounds, I almost feel guilty for cursing whoever I say will win. Almost isn’t enough here. Parker is going to be a monster in this game because he has to be. France lost the 1949 final to Egypt and the 2011 decider to Spain. Parker was there for the last one and he knows how much the title would mean to his nation. Being a one man army however isn’t going to be sufficient. He needs helps. The inside battle however is going to require Boris Diaw and Alexis Ajinca to step up. To me, Jonas Valanciunas becomes a key man here. If he can stay out of foul trouble, Lithuania could hurt France on the interior. That’s a huge if and it’s too wild to sway me. Tonight, it’s Tony time. France to win.