The semi finals of EuroBasket 2022 are here and Friday’s opener sees Cinderella side Poland take on perennial contenders France
All games from now on are at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin, Germany
Friday 16 September 17.15 CEST, 16.15 BST, 11.15 EST, 08.15 PST
How they got here
France (6-2) is about as battle tested as they come. Since losing to Germany on the opening day they have shown tremendous chemistry in wins over Lithuania, Hungary, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Turkey, and Italy, along with their lone other loss of the tournament to Slovenia. France needed overtime in both their wins in the knockout phase but showed their mettle well in both.
Poland (6-2) is on fire following a win that initially looked like it would be a walk, then it looked like a collapse, only to show their superior conditioning and chemistry to overcome Slovenia in the semi-finals. In the group stage they had been the Jekyll and Hyde team of this tournament, looking terrible in losses to Serbia and Finland but impressing in their wins over Israel, Netherlands, Czech Republic. The knockout phase wins over Slovenia and in the last 16 over Ukraine showed their character.
Need to know
Poland have no superstars but have a fantastic understanding of each other. The two big scoring threats are AJ Slaughter and Matesuz Ponitka but if ever a side demonstrated team basketball in this competition its Igor Milicic’s side. They have rotations they like, they have a game plan they believe in, and they stick to both.
France’s best known stars, Rudy Gobert and Evan Fournier, are the obvious ones to watch here but this is a deep and organised line-up that knows each other well. Just a summer removed from silver in the Tokyo Olympics, Les Bleus probably bring the best blend of talent and experience to the final four.
BallinEurope is ramping up its YouTube game this season. Subscribe to our channel now for player exclusives, analysis videos, and much more.
Poland are playing in their first semi-final since 1971, the second longest gap in final four appearances in history but first place carries a big asterisk. Lithuania had a 58 year gap between 1937 and 1995 but for most of that spell Lithuania was part of the USSR and the bulk of the great Soviet sides were made up of Lithuania players. This is a really historic achievement for Poland.
France oddly have an awful record at the semi-final stage, going 2-11 all-time and their only two wins came in 2011 and 2013, with the latter being the only time to date they’ve gone on to win the whole thing.
What do the bookies say?
France are clear favourites at 7/25 while Poland are underdogs for the third straight time in the knockout rounds at 16/5. The point spread has France as -12.5 favourites.
What do we say?
Poland won’t be intimidated by France’s pedigree because it’s clear now that nothing intimidates this side. The gym is also likely to be a mini-Warsaw given the numbers expected to travel for the game. This will effectively be a home outing for Poland. That said, France probably has more ways to hurt Poland than France does it and, over 40 minutes, it’s a big ask for Poland to pull off another miracle.
France to win but they won’t cover the spread.