EuroBasket 2013: A little bit of everything on Day 1

EuroBasket 2013
France’s Tony Park tries to get around Germany’s Maik Zirbes in their Round 1 opener. Germany turned in one of the biggest upsets of Day 1 with an 80:74 win.

Day 1 one of EuroBasket 2013 finally tipped off and to reward hoops fans that have waited nearly a year since the draws were presented the competition was intense, surprising, and frustrating all rolled into one. After months of roster watching, player jockeying, and pre-tournament chatter, EuroBasket 2013 is finally underway, and if the first day is any indication of what we are in store for, it’s going to be well worth the wait.

Of the twelve games there were four with margins of four points and under, with one game that went into OT; three blowouts; and the final five were decided by 11 points or less, with four being seven or less. If you ask the ‘experts’, they’d tell you that there were at least five games that ended in what could be considered upsets. The one thing that did ring clear on Day 1 is that teams had better make their free throws as three contests were decided with trips to the line in the final seconds. It just doesn’t get any better than that…

Day 1 of 5 of the first round is in the books, but there are 18 days between these first games and the title game on 22 September.

Group A
Overall Group A had the closest games of the day with all three games being decided by 11 points total. Great Britain took Israel into OT and came out with a four-point win, 75:71, to pick up some early respect; Ukraine took Belgium to the wire and won on a pair of free throws, 58:57; Germany turned in one of the day’s upsets with an 80:74 victory over Tony Parker and the contingent from France.

Great Britain – Israel, 75:71
Free throws, free throws, free throws… Everyone who knows anything about basketball knows that if you want to win big games (or any tight games), you’ve got to put the rock through the hoop from the line, consistently. Great Britain dropped 26 of 35 (74.3%), while Israel struggled, only connecting on 17 of 32 (53.1%). They Israeli’s also came up empty on four charity tosses in the last 1:09, including two with 20 seconds left and a two-point lead.

GB got the early lead, taking a 34:30 lead into the dressing rooms at the break. Israel had a big third quarter and went up 52:47 after Afik Nissim hit a layup and knocked down a three-pointer to close out the quarter. The situation looked bleak for Great Britain after falling behind by nine with just over three minutes to play, but the lid fell on the Israel basket and they went scoreless down the stretch while the Brits chipped away at the margin, ultimately knotting the score at 66 with a pair of Andrew Lawrence singles with 12 seconds to play. Israel got a shot off at the buzzer, but they came up short and the teams regrouped for an extra five minutes of playing time.

Once again, Israel built a lead, getting up 71:67 with 2:13 to play, then couldn’t find the cords again. Kyle Johnson dropped a triple for GB to pull to within a point, 71:70 and Ogo Adegboye split a pair of single to draw even at 71. Israel couldn’t capitalize on a Great Britain turnover, but GB got the lead on a Johnson layup with 15 seconds left. Nissim lost the ball with three seconds to play on his way to the basket and Andrew Sullivan picked up a pair of free throws to ice the contest.

Johnson was game-high for GB with 22 points, while Kieron Achara turned in an 18P/13R double-double. Nissim paced Israel with 17 points, and the duo of Lior Eliyahu and Omri Casspi turned in double-doubles, Eliyahu’s tally on the day was 11P/14R and Casspi added 13P/11R.

Ukraine – Belgium, 58:57
Pooh Jeter dropped a floater and connected on the single to complete a three-point play with three seconds on the clock to give the Ukraine a 58:57 win over Belgium. Ukraine shooters hit four from behind the arc in the fourth quarter, while the Belgians were just 4 of 12 in the fourth quarter, scoring only nine points in the final 10 minutes of play.

Belgium took a substantial lead into the locker-room at halftime, 36:26 after outscoring the Ukrainians 24:15 in the second quarter. Ukraine grabbed two points back in the third to cut the lead to eight heading into the final frame.

The Ukrainians chipped away at the lead, dropping in four triples to knot the score at 54 with just under two minutes to play. Belgium got the lead back immediately after Christophe Beghin knocked down a jumper, but then both teams went cold for the next 1:38. Vlacheslav Kravtsov rejected a Sam van Rossom layup attempt with 37 seconds left that would have all but sealed the game up for Belgium. As time ran down and the Ukrainians looked for their opening for a final shot, Jeter took the ball down the left side of the lane, went up and sank an up and under layup to tie the score at 57. In the process, he was fouled by Axel Hervelle, sending Jeter to the line for a single shot to five his club the lead, which he connected on.

Ihor Zaytsev was game-high with 16 points for Ukraine, Sergii Gladyr added 11. Beghin was high-man for Belgium with 14, and Jonathan Tabu added 13.

Germany – France, 80:74
In one of the biggest upsets of the day, Germany put on a shooting exhibition and turned back a Tony Parker-led French squad, 80:74.

In the first frame, the Germans were red-hot, knocking down 90% of their shots and building a 27:14 advantage. France turned the tables in the second and outscored them 25:16 to trim the gap to four, 43:39, as they headed into the dressing rooms at the intermission.

The French chipped away even more during the third 10, slicing off another three to pull to within one, 57:56, as they prepared for the final frame.

In the fourth the two clubs battled to five ties, with the final being at the 1:54 remaining mark off a Lucca Staiger triple to knot the score at 72. Staiger hit a second three less than a minute later to put the Germans up by three. Parker brought the Frenchmen to within a point with a layup, but then Robin Benzing hit three of his game-high 19 with 19 seconds to play to put the Germans up 78:74. Nicolas Batum came up short on a triple for France and Benzing closed out the scoring with a pair of singles to cap the big win for Germany.

Benzing’s 19 led the Germans, with Staiger and Niels Griffey adding 14 each, and Heiko Schaffartzik collecting a 12P/11A double-double. Parker led the way for France with 18, and Mickael Gelabale contributed 11 points and 3 steals for France.

EuroBasket Group A

Round 1 Match List[matches league_id=35 group=A template=summary dateformat=”M. j, Y”]

Standings[standings league_id=35 group=A show_website=false template=nolink]

Group B
Group B provided some excitement as Montenegro snuck by F.Y.R. of Macedonia, Serbia upset Lithuania, and Latvia handed Bosnia and Herzegovina an 11-point loss.

Latvia – Bosnia and Herzegovina, 86:75
Despite BIH connecting on 20 more free throws than Latvia, the Bosnia and Herzegovina contingent couldn’t find their range from outside and connected on nine fewer triples than the Latvians. Inside the arc Latvia was 23 of 37 (62.2%) compared to 21 of 51 (41.2%) and overall they were 34 of 66 (51.5%), compared to 23 of 66 (34.8%) for BIH.

Latvia knotted the score at 20 on a free throw with three seconds to play in the first quarter. In the second the Latvians took control and put up 10 on BIH, outscoring them 23:13 to take a 43:33 advantage into the break.

Bosnia and Herzegovina picked off five from the deficit in the third, but they couldn’t get any closer as Latvia pulled away in the fourth to register the upset win.

Latvia got a game-high 24 from Rolands Freimanis and 13 from Rihards Kuksiks. BIH got 19 from Nihad Djedovic, 18 from Mirza Teletovic and 16 from Elmedin Kikanovic.

Montenegro – F.Y.R. of Macedonia, 81:80
Montenegro got four clutch free throws from Tyrese Rice in the final minute, along with a couple of huge defensive stops to pull off an 81:80 win over F.Y.R of Macedonia on Day 1 in Group B.

This battle of the M’s was just that, a battle from the tip to the final buzzer as the clubs were neck-and-neck all the way. After the first 10, Montenegro held a one-point lead, 25:24, with the largest lead of six points coming early in the frame.

In the second, Montenegro put together a nine-point advantage with just over three minutes to play in the half, only to watch it disappear after a 10:0 run gave the Macedonians a one-point lead, 46:45, heading into the mid-game break.

Suad Sehovic knocked down a triple to open the second half scoring for Montenegro, giving them the lead back, until Bo McCalebb dropped a layup to knot the score. The clubs exchanged baskets until F.Y.R of Macedonia hit seven unanswered to get up 59:52 with just over three minutes left in the quarter. They had the same seven-point lead with just over a minute left in the third 10, until Marko Bjelica connected on a pair of singles and a jumper to close out scoring at 67:64.

The Macedonians got back up by eight with six minutes left, but let Montenegro back in the contest, allowing six unanswered to pull the score to within a point, 78:77 with 1:44 to play. McCalebb hit a layup with 1:30 to play to put F.Y.R. of Macedonia up by three, 80:77, but that would be the last time points would go on their side of the board. Rice was fouled with 50 seconds to play, which pulled Montenegro to within one after he connected on both singles, then he was fouled again with 10 seconds on the clock, giving his squad a point lead, 81:80. F.Y.R. of Macedonia had to opportunities to win, but McCalebb missed a layup and Gjorgji Checkovski missed a follow-up tip in with a second on the clock, preserving the Montenegro victory.

Rice and Sehovic were team-high for Montenegro with 16 points, while McCalebb’s 23 were game-high for the Macedonians. Damjan Stojanovski added 19 to the losing effort.

Serbia – Lithuania, 63:56
Serbia got out to an early lead, then had to withstand a couple of comebacks, only to come out on top with a big first day win, 63:56, over a much more experienced club from Lithuania.

Lithuania found it tough to put the ball in the hoop in the first quarter, allowing Serbia to build a 20:10 advantage after the first 10. It took a 7:2 Lithuanian run at the end of the half to get the margin down to six heading into the break, 33:27.

The start of the third saw a pair of triples fall for Lithuania, knotting the score at 33. Serbia then took control of the frame and built a 12-point lead, before settling in with a 10-point advantage as time ran out of the third quarter with Serbia up 51:41.

The first five of the forth frame went on the Serbian size to give them a 15-point margin, 56:41. Lithuania wasn’t having any of that and ran off 10 unanswered of their own to pull to within five, 56:51, with 4:21 to play. Serbia took their turn with another scoring run, pulling away to a 10-point advantage with just under two minutes left, 63:53. Lithuania ran out of time and options at that point, and were only able to slice off three from the margin as time expired, giving the young Serbian club a huge first day win.

Nenad Krstic was game-high for Serbia with 20 points and 9 rebounds, while Nemanja Nedovic added 14 points. Mantas Kalnietis was team-high with 17 for Lithuania.

EuroBasket Group B

Round 1 Match List[matches league_id=35 group=B template=summary dateformat=”M. j, Y”]

Standings[standings league_id=35 group=B show_website=false template=nolink]

(See Groups C and D in the Court Side News Game Center)

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