Friday, September 07, 2007

Eurobasket Reset

After an off-day in Spain, the Preliminary Round of Eurobasket 2007 is behind us and the Qualifying Round just tipped off, as Russia and Portugal are in the first quarter as I write.

Let's take a minute for a recap of the first three days and an overview of where we stand now.

The tournament is down from 16 teams to 12, as Serbia, Latvia, Poland and the Czech Republic have been eliminated.

The four groups have been whittled down to two groups of 6 - basically the survivors of Group A & B have been combined into Group E, and the survivors of Groups C & D have been combined into Group F.

In the Qualifying Round, teams will now play the teams in their group which they haven't yet faced (i.e., in Group E, the Group A teams will play three games, against the Group B teams). Records are carried over from the Prelim Round into the Qualifying Round, though games against the eliminated teams are dropped, so that the remaining teams in Groups E and F will all have balanced schedules.

If that doesn't make sense, this chart should explain it better.

Here are the groups with their official records (i.e. with a game dropped per team):
Russia 2-0
Croatia 2-0
Spain 1-1
Greece 1-1
Israel 0-2
Portugal 0-2

Lithuania 2-0
Slovenia 2-0
Germany 1-1
France 1-1
Italy 0-2
Turkey 0-2

Top four in each group will advance to the quarterfinals (Schedule). Israel and Portugal seem likely to be eliminated from Group E while Group F is really up for grabs - those are six talented teams.

Lithuania and Russia have been the class of the tournament so far. Lithuania has been an offensive juggernaut, leading the tournament in points (88.3), 3-pt FG% (42.6) and assists (15.3), while also standing no. 2 in overall FG% (51.4).

Russia has been playing exceptional defense, allowing just 58 ppg on 34.4% FG shooting. In this story on the official site, guard J.R. Holden is quoted as saying, "“If you have guys like (Andrei) Kirilenko, (Victor) Khryapa and (Sergey) Monya, who are so long and athletic, you can block shots and rebound and really not have two centers playing or a natural forward. I mean we have Kirilenko playing power forward for us. So not having a big four man but having someone long and athletic like him just enables us to get out and run and exploit some of the mismatches which help us."

Slovenia owns one-point victories over both France and Italy - they seem to be playing with chemistry which has eluded them in recent tournaments. Meanwhile, Croatia surprised Spain 85-84 on this last-second three:

Juan Carlos Navarro is expected to return for Spain today for its showdown vs. Greece (a rematch of the gold-medal game from the 2006 Worlds).

The top players in the tournament so far have been pretty clear and fairly unsurprising:
- Dirk Nowitzki, Germany (29.0 pts, 8.7 reb, 1.7 blk, 47.5% FG, 91.3% FT)
- Andrei Kirilenko, Russia (17.7 pts, 14 reb, 3 ast, 2 blk, 1.3 stl)
- Pau Gasol, Spain (23.7 pts, 5.7 reb, 2.3 ast, 1.7 blk, 68.4% FG)
- Sarunas Jasikevicius, Lithuania (14.3 pts, 4.7 reb, 7.0 ast, 51.9% FG)
- Tony Parker, France (25.7 pts, 2.0 ast, 45.3% FG)
Tournament stat leaders

For an excellent breakdown of the storylines so far, visit Draft Express for this story:
EuroBasket 2007 Notebook: Preliminary Round
Luis Fernández and Jonathan Givony cover the following storylines:
-Serbian Historic Debacle
-Milos Teodosic, the Serbian Hope
-Russian Revival
-Buzzer Beater Extravaganza
-MVPs Playing Like MVPs
-What's Wrong With Greece?
-Turks Fall Flat Again

And also, Chris Ekstrand of SportsTicker offers a comprehensive overall recap of Preliminary Round results.

And on we go to the Qualifying Round. Jay Aych used the off-day to re-caffeinate and watch old game tapes of Sabonis and Petrovic (I think I'm kidding, though I can't be sure) - he's rested and ready to get the MediaZone webcasts fired back up so he can resume the analysis!


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