The elimination tournament stage of the FIBA U20 European Championship Men tips off today with a full slate of six games. Though a few of these games seem a bit imbalanced thanks to some surprises (Turkey, Montenegro, Italy … we’re looking at you) advancing, most feature an intriguing subplot or two. And there’s an excellent marquee matchup in prime time. Today’s schedule of games follows.
Spain v. Turkey (14.30 GMT) – Turkey managed to squeak in at 2-3, but truth is the team won the games they needed to, first destroying Ukraine 93-44, and then convincingly shutting down Serbia, 63-52. Every one of them is must-win now, however, and gumption will not be enough against Spain, clearly one of the favorites at this point.
France v. Montenegro (16.45 GMT) – A Goliath and David matchup: France has proven to be one of the better teams in this tournament, blowing past Belgium, Italy and Greece in the first pool round and finding difficulty only in a loss to mighty Spain 84-76 in the teams’ last game of Group E. Montenegro, meanwhile, surprised Serbia with an OT upset to knock out their rivals. France has the edge in talent; does Team Montenegro have anything left in the tank?
Croatia v. Greece (19.00 GMT) – FIBA organizers cleverly put the best match in prime time: Hosts Greece have played a series of nail-biters, winning by an 11-point differential in three Group E wins. The ultra-talented Team Croatia has found its way after a slow start featuring a loss to Ukraine and a too-tight victory over Germany, suffering its only loss since game one to Lithuania in pool play. This one should be a dandy.
Latvia v. Serbia, 9th-12th place classification game (19.00 GMT) – Team Serbia is surely anxious to prove they aren’t as bad as they’ve played lately (a win against Lithuania, a loss to Montenegro: That’s consistency), while Latvia may just be happy to be here.
Russia v. Ukraine, 9th-12th place classification game (21.15 GMT) – What the hell happened to Ukraine against Turkey? The blowout utterly deflated Team Ukraine, which ended up outscored by 83 points in its final three games. The only question here is whether the time might instead request a forfeit.
Lithuania v. Italy (21.15 GMT) – Perhaps a special exception should have been made for the 2-3 Serbs, as Italy manages to progress despite going 1-4 in Group E play. With the exception of the speed bump hit in its first Group F game, a 76-67 loss to Serbia, Lithuania has mostly cruised.