Today marked the beginning of the EuroBasket tournament at large, after the preliminary round. The idea of the prelims was that out of “D” groups with 6 teams each, 4 teams from each group would qualify for the tournament.
After Spain’s dominant win over Poland, Spain qualified for the tournament in Group C.
Today, Latvia plays the Ukraine, Belgium plays Serbia, and Lithuania plays France.
Tomorrow, Spain plays Greece, Finland plays Croatia, and Slovenia plays Italy. So far into the tournament, Serbia, Italy, Latvia, France, and the Ukraine are all ahead of Spain in the rankings, which is interesting. So far, Spain is 4-1 with three dominant wins, and only Italy is undefeated so far. The thing is, Spain has lost to a team in their new division, while neither France, Latvia, or Serbia’s losses have come against anyone that they’ll be forced to face.
In between the last game and tomorrow’s game, Spain also had another conclusive victory over Georgia, winning the game 83-59.
The win was interesting, because Spain drastically dialed down all the starters’ play time. Since this game was more or less irrelevant to the rest of the tournament, Gasol only logged 20 minutes to his usual 35, Rubio logged 18 to his usual 25, and Calderon only logged 19 to his usually 25, all in an effort to preserve the players for future games.
As such, Gasol didn’t do much (other than 8 rebounds). That said, Ricky Rubio had another brilliant game even in his limited minutes. He was 7-7 for 16 points, with one three pointer, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists. Presumably, Rubio’s great game was the reason that Spain’s bench managed to win the game so handily.
Of course, team Georgia was not particularly good to begin with. They only won one game in the tournament, against the equally bad Poland, but lost everything else.
At any rate, Spain seems primed to take on the surprisingly good Greek team. Despite having no NBA talent on the squad, Greece has done fairly well in the tournament, with a 3-2 record. In particular, the Greek center Bourousis is an impressive talent. Luckily, Spain has Marc Gasol to match up with him.
Greece’s best asset is their massive amount of shooting talent and the ability to space the floor in a way that has really overworked primarily zone European defenses. Spain, however, has been a defensive force of nature for the entire tournament, and Greece will likely find itself without as many easy options. Dump offs to Bourousis, too, will be less effective with Marc Gasol keeping his watch on the post.
In general, the first round game against Greece is a game that Spain should win, but Greece shouldn’t be taken for granted. We’ll see how it goes tomorrow!