The most interesting game of the 2017 EuroBasket quarter finals is undoubtedly the second one on Tuesday as Slovenia and Latvia bring rosters with some big stars and really, really, different strengths to the table. Emmet Ryan has thought about every possible way this game could go and the BiE editor is certain this game will deliver. He explains why
The layout is pretty simple. Slovenia have Goran Dragic playing, save for the Ukraine game, like he’s determined to finally win a medal in his last every EuroBasket by breathing fire across all before him. On top of that Luka Doncic is getting all the plaudits because he is doing Luka Doncic things. Klemen Prepelic and Vlatko Cancar are impressing while Anthony Randolph is as aggressive on the floor as he is soft-spoken off it. These guys are fun.
Latvia have got a certain unicorn playing for them alongside Davis Bertans, who managed to set a national team record for threes made in a game at EuroBasket while playing with an injured finger. Janis Blums has gone turning back time on this tournament in spots, while Dairis Bertans and Janis Timma have also done quite fun things. Oh and Janis Strelnieks is the quiet guy who just gets things done.
Nice set up but we’ve had some pretty awful games through the knockout phase so far. With that in mind, I’m taking a look at all possible ways this game could go and seeing what that means for the neutral observer from afar.
Slovenia wins big
This would require Dragic to go beast mode which has happened a lot this tournament and been great to watch. It also will require a lot from Luka Doncic against two players who have NBA experience, with Kristaps Porzingis being the guy New York Knicks fans want to be the guy. If Slovenia wins big, we’re going to see a lot from two guys people want to see a lot from.
Latvia wins big
Oh my. Sometimes a beatdown is just beautiful to watch. Kristaps and Davis showed that a couple of times through the group phase of this competition and for Latvia to win big, again, those two are going to have to deliver. A Latvian beatdown will massively depend on Kristaps dunking on Slovenia with the same ferocity and frequency he showed against Great Britain, freeing up space on the outside for Davis to rain fire. Again, fun.
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Close but high scoring
Ummm this is the best outcome by a long way. All the big guys will have to show up big time in such a scenario, the amount of tactical switches will be fascinating to follow, and we get lots of runs. If this is high scoring it simply won’t be tit for tat stuff. Slovenia will have a surge, then Latvia will come right back at them and vice versa. It’s going to be haymaker city out there if we get a high scoring one.
Close but low scoring
Anthony Randolph goes to war. If this is a tight affair it means Latvia are going to hang with Slovenia’s guards to some degree while their size advantage gets limited to some degree by Anthony Randolph. Everybody in Europe knows he’s explosive and seeing him go right up against Porzingis in the post, with two players who are reasonably well matched strength wise, is going to be fun. Again, we’re doing good.
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An error strewn mess
The biggest wildcard, the one everybody worries about because we’ve got plenty of these games in the knockout rounds already. Well, bad basketball is bad basketball but it can still be entertaining. Just watch the tape of the freakishly awful Russia vs Turkey game from the start of the tournament. In this case it’s all about the pressure because the veterans out there like Strelnieks, Blums, and Dragic aren’t the ones everyone is going to be looking at if things get messy. Kristaps has been in big foul trouble this tournament while Doncic is 18. That’s a whole lot to look at and when the heat is on it should prove captivating. Viewers will still be fine.
Wherever you are and whatever the outcome, this game should be appointment viewing on Tuesday. The game tips at 21.30 local, which is…long version… 20.30 CET/19.30 Irish/UK/14.30 EST/11.30 PST
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