So this writer isn’t live in Vilnius for today’s surprisingly (somewhat) crucial game in the 2011 FIBA EuroBasket second round between Finland and Georgia, but hey, why should that stop more BallinEurope live blogging? Tuned into the IPTV, BiE is ready to report on the contest … the key point of this matchup? The loser is eliminated and pretty much guaranteed to land dead last in the Group F standings.
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Pregame. BiE’s starting to think that the live blog concept is outdated, but this won’t stop BiE today, anyway. Yeah, sure, i’ll throw out some tweets from @BiE_basketball.
National anthem time … will it go off without a hitch?
Well, it seemed to go okay…
First quarter. 9.38: McKenzie hits the first points of the game. Georgia, 3-0.
6.50: Georgia is just chucking up the threes since … unforunately, they’re only 1-of-3. Finland, 6-5.
5.07: Kopponen winds down the 24-second clock, then slashes through the lane and dumps it to Saus Salin for the three. Finland, 9-5. Not exactly a barnburner here…
3.51: McKenzie won’t stop jacking ’em up! For three! Finland, 9-8.
3.22: Marcus Haynes ties it up from the line … those anti-naturalization folks must hate Georgia. 9-9.
2.43: Finland retakes the lead and Georgia turns it over in a hurry. Commentators note that “If Georgia has one weakness, it’s turnovers.” If? They’ve been giving up 19 per game in this tournament.
2.06: Georgia’s moving the ball around nicely, especially outside on the perimeter, but just not hitting anything.
0.56: Another three missed by Georgia, and after a missed FT, they get the lay-in.
0.24: Finland kills much clock thanks to an offensive rebound, Gerald Lee with the layup and the and-one.
0.17: More Finland. Another damning stat for Georgia: They’re just 3-of-8 from the FT line. Koivisto hits two FTs.
0.00: At the end of one, it’s Finland 22-13.
Second quarter. Georgia is just 4-of-14 from the field, divided into equal 2-of-7s from two and three.
9.38: Salin and Gerald Lee commit two quick fouls on one Georgia possession … no matter.
8.56: McKenzie hits a long one for Georgia, followed by a Finland TO.
8.43: Shermandini blows past Lee for two. Finland, 22-17.
8.19: Gerald Lee fouls, Georgia blows right back with Markoishvilli. 22-19.
7.53: And Gerald Lee with his third foul of the quarter!
7.25: Koponen playing pitch-and-catch with every man on the floor … no result.
7.09: Nice fake and the dunk by Kotti! 24-21, Finland.
6.59: Koponen kicks it out to Koivisto for three. 27-23, Finland.
5.43: Shermanidi with the dunk and the and-one. No more three-point shooting, Georgia? Must be Lee on the bench…Shermanidi hits the FT. Georgia down by just one.
5.15: Korvisto for three again … Finland’s six longball of the game.
3.54: Missed threes by Korvisto and Koponen, but two offensive rebounds.
3.05: Shengelia drives the baseline for the 30-30 tie!
2.38: Haynes can’t hit, but Shengelia with the board … Haynes can’t hit a second try, either.
2.02: Shengelia draws a foul then gives one on the other end.
1.38: Makkailen for his first points gives Finland a four-point lead.
0.25: Georgia ball, down by two. Markoishvili draws the tripping foul. Georgia just 7-of-13 on FTs after missing one.
0.02: Georgia can’t do anything with its last possession, leaving 2.7 seconds (or maybe 3.3; they’re arguing it over with the replay technology) on the clock for Finland.
0.02?: Or maybe 3.7, they’re saying now…
0.00: Insane. Desperation three may have been goaltended by Shengalia; more debating among refs…nope, won’t count. Finland up, 36-33, going the entire quarter without a free throw.
Third quarter. 9.28: Nice drive by Koponen. Finland has four in a row, Georgia is 0-of-6 on the last six attempts.
9.06: Koponen again to the rim but BLOCKED.
8.06: Tskitishvili draws the foul after nicely rebounding the wild three at the 24-second buzzer. Hits both. 42-37, Finland.
6.38: Shermadini and Lee back for their respective sides. 46-37, Finland, after another three. Cold be pulling away, with Georgia hitting nothing.
5.40: Haynes wide open for the three, stops the Finland run.
5.20: Markoshvilli goes over two defenders to feed Tskitishvili underneath. Georgia had a good timeout…
3.49: Swapped baskets. 50-46 to Finland.
3.03: After not one shooting foul incurred in the second Q, Finland has had seemingly an unending series of walks to the FT line in the third. Finland, 56-48.
2.30: Kovisti for the three! Eleven point lead is Finland’s biggest. 59-48.
1.29: Markoshivilli for three, ugh. That didn’t work before, Georgia … Kotti with the defensive rebound.
0.22: Koponen blocked by Shengalia — that’s one thing Georgia can do, even without Pachulia…
0.00: Finland clearly won that quarter, eh? Finland up, 61-52, after 13 free throws taken that quarter.
Fourth quarter. Finland up in rebounds, 30-26? That shouldn’t really happen, should it?
9.44: Koponen to Muurinen for three. Eleven points for Muurinen now, nine in the second half. 64-52 to Finland … and it’s looking like this plucky side will stay alive, though they still need a Slovenia loss as well…
7.54: Huff beats three much larger Georgians for the offensive board and the follow. 69-56 to Finland.
7.33: “Plenty of time for Georgia,” says a FIBA announcer, which may mean the opposite.
7.11: Huff now with 10 after a nice jump shot made. 71-59, Finland.
6.51: Salin burns on the fast break as Finland extends the lead to 14.
6.05: Yeesh, Haynes travels instead of finishing the fast break. The proverbial nothing is going Georgia’s way…
5.49: Desperation timeout for Georgia here? Meanwhile, we’re reminded of just how much play the hosts want to get out of their official EuroBasket anthem song. No one will ever want to hear this again, come October.
5.11: Koponen for another three. Finland now a ridiculous 12-of-24 on threes here.
4.58: Shermadini fouls Koponen and thus fouls out. Finland, 77-61, after another foul to Kotti. Hark, the fat lady is warming up in the wings.
3.56: Haynes turns it over, Finland off to the races, but can’t finish.
3.30: On the other end, Georgia with the fast break get a four-footer from Tskitishvili, who draws the foul from Lee. Lee fouls out. 77-64, Finland.
2.25: Koponen reenters with his guys up 11. Five Finns are in double-figure scoring: Koponen, Huff, Muurinen, Koivisto and Kotti, each with between 10 and 12.
2.20: Now Tskitishvili fouls out, taking his 10-point, five-rebound, four-assist line with him…
1.39: Sanikidze misses one of two from the line — figures. 81-69 to Finland, who’s killing clock like never before … can they just crawl it up the court?
0.28: Ah, the Beckettsque existential angst of the basketball End Game: foul, foul, foul, with the trailing team never catching the leader … and then twin fastbreaks make it 84-73.
0.00: And your final score is 87-73 after another Koivisto three — also figures.
Right, so one more time: Finland now awaits the outcome of the FYR Macedonia-Slovenia game tonight; for this serious underdog to live another day, Slovenia must lose.
Having had problems all along with the corpulent tournament field of 24 for this EuroBasket tournament, BiE has mixed feelings about a Finland advancement. While it’s always nice to see the plucky upstart get far (that’s the secret of March Madness, innit?), something just doesn’t sit right in allowing a team that goes 3-4 to advance. On the other hand, they’ll merely be meeting a guillotine, either French- or Spanish-flavored on Wednesday. On the other other hand, Koponen and the boys are 3-0 in potential elimination games in this tournament … allow BiE’s stay in fantasy land for a few more seconds; after all, much of Helsinki probably still is at this very moment…