Eurobasket 2009: Day 1 Recap (Serbia-Spain & Turkey-Lithuania)
GROUP C: Serbia 66, Spain 57
Has to be the worst game I've seen Spain play in recent time. Can't remember a non-USA game in the last five years where Spain got thoroughly outplayed.
It's not so much that they lost, it was how they got beat. Spain is just not a national team that goes thru the motions. Spain was without Rudy Fernandez because of a quad injury, but they have more than enough firepower to play better than this.
Spain was a step slow and couldn't hold onto the ball. Was slow transitioning from offense to defense. Constantly beaten to spots on both ends. Spain made some mini-runs in the 2nd half, but never seriously threatened the Serbs.
Give Serbia some credit, they have promising talent on its roster, but most of their players are inexperienced on the senior level. Serbia was in control of this game from early on and never relinquished command. Serbia appeared more purposeful in its moves. Took advantage of their transition opportunities. Were quicker to loose balls. Played with great defensive intensity thru-out.
Serbia's defense was the key. Serbia forced Spain into a horrid 32% shooting day, 2 for 19 from long-range. Serbia's on-ball pressure on the perimeter was relentless and most of Spain's jump shots were contested. When the ball got into the painted area, Serbia swarmed with quick hands to cause 12 steals. The guards dug down hard on the post.
Serbia was totally willing to give fouls (27 fouls). This clearly wasn't happenstance, but appeared to be a pre-game objective. Serbia has a deep, versatile roster with similar talent that can absorb fouls. Not sure they expected their physical play to pay off as well as it did--Spain shot 15/28 from the FT line.
Nenad Krstic was the star of the day on both ends with 17 pts & 6 rebs on 7/12 FG. Nenad mixed in some righty hooks with some turnaround jumpers on offense, and was active near the rim helping to change shots & holding the fort vs. the Gasol boys.
Rising prospect Novica Velickovic brought his all-around skills to festivities with 12 pts, 8 rebs, & 3 stls. The 6-9 Novica hit two 3pts., finished at the rim and helped Krstic on the backline defensively.
Combo guard Milenko Tepic did damage in the 1st half off the dribble, scoring a handful of short runners & jumpers. Tepic usually looks to set up others first, but tonight he had room to score 10 pts on 4/8.
Spain went mostly zone in the 2nd half, switching from a 2-3 alignment to a 1-3-1 later. The zone looks were effective in the 2nd half, holding Serbia to 9/28 shooting in the half & 3/18 behind the arc. The Serbia guards could not get inside like they did in the 1st half.
Forward Felipe Reyes was the only Spaniard who had a positive showing. Reyes showed off his tight footwork to score around the rim a few times. Reyes had 12 pts, 6 rebs, and scored on a few put-backs off his 3 offensive rebs.
Pau connected on some nifty scores near the hoop for 9 pts, but inexplicably shot 1 for 8 at the FT line. His brother, Marc, didn't handle the collapsing Serbian help well--coughed up 5 TOs.
Kinda feel bad for Britain the most. They face Spain on Tuesday and imagine Spain is looking to go full throttle. Serbia's in good shape to take Group C because Matjaz Smodis has decided sit out the 1st round. Slovenia still has plenty of talent, so Serbia vs. Slovenia projects to be a top game on Tuesday's schedule.
GROUP D: Turkey 84, Lithuania 76
With this win over a solid opponent, Turkey answered the question about whether they would take this tourney seriously with an automatic qualifying spot in their back pocket. Turkey was led to victory by their potent NBA forward combo, Hedo & Ersan Ilyasova.
You would think a game where both teams shot 52% from the floor would be somewhat entertaining. But it wasn't. Hard game to embrace with all the stoppages of action because of constant fouling--a total of 50 fouls whistled.
The Turkish offense looked similar to the Magic offense with Hedo handling the ball in the high pick/roll most of the time (Though, Oguz Savas is nothing similar to D-Howard). Hedo connected on a few on his patented pull-up jumpers going to his left, hit off of iso action as well. Hedo led the Turks with 19 pts & 3 assts.
Ersan Ilyasova showed off some of the skills he flashed at the '06 Worlds. Ilyasova hit some tough pull-ups starting in isolation, including a nice step-back 3pt to aid Hedo with 17 pts & 6 rebs. Ilyasova has nice one-on-one skills that can translate to the NBA. You combine these skills with his physical package and you understand why the Bucks want him back.
Turkey's massive Oguz Savas bulldozed his way to the rim for 10 pts. Savas has some decent offensive skills, but the idea of Oguz as a legit NBA prospect is dubious because of his very unathletic physical package.
PG Ender Arslan did a nice job turning the corner to get into the lane, where he finished some drives or picked up fouls. Ender dropped 16 pts & 3 assts, and made 8 for 8 FTs in the 4th.
Even though Lithuania's shooting numbers were strong, they were not indicative of how the offense functioned. The offense never really had that fluid continuity that's typical of Lithuania basketball. 15 TOs for a 40-minute game is a little too high.
The typical crisp ball movement was seen only in spurts, and disappeared in the 4th. Some of the shot attempts were questionable, which is a rarity for Lithuania. Take away Simas Jasaitis' shooting, and the rest of the team shot 5/21 from long range.
A bad omen for Lithuania was the unimpressive performance from Lithuania's patchwork PG platoon of Mantas Kalnietis, Tomas Delininkaitis, & Andrius Mazutis. We questioned the creativity of the backcourt in our preview, still wonder if this holds them back form a medal.
Sounds obvious but when Jasikevicius was running this offense, they were a machine. The absence of Jasikevicius & Siskauskas was magnified in crunch time. Lithuania struggled to score down the stretch, were stuck on 66 pts for 4 minutes. Had no one who could set up scoring opportunities.
Wide-body Marijonas Petravicius scored 21 pts by finding ways to get open near the rim. Petravicius creates space with his rugged build, which led to easy buckets & plenty of drawn fouls (7/10 FTs). SF Simas Jasaitis came off the bench to do what he always does--drill jumpers, 4/4 from 3pt.
Lithuania tried to get Linas Kleiza involved in the 1st half by slice-cutting him across the lane, but Turkey was keyed in on Kleiza. The few touches Linas got in the 1st half often led to turnovers. After a quiet 1st half, Kleiza got going in the 2nd half with some short drives to finish with 12 pts.
No time for Lithuania to make adjustments with the much-improved Polish squad waiting on Tuesday. Should be a fun game considering the high number of Lith. fans in Poland.