From Group E, Serbia (4-1), Lithuania (4-1), France (3-2) and Ukraine (2-3) advance. Belgium and Latvia (both 1-4) are eliminated.
In Group F, Croatia (4-1), Slovenia (3-2), Italy (3-2) and Spain (2-3) advance while Finland (2-3) and Greece (1-4) head home.
In today’s games Serbia faces Spain, Slovenia plays France, Croatia against Ukraine and Italy and Lithuania play the final game.
One of the big stories has been the poor showing of defending champion Spain. Second round losses to Greece and Italy have put a damper on Spain’s chances. In the game vs. Italy, although both teams clinched a spot in the quarterfinals prior to the contest, the Italians came back from a 15-point fourth quarter deficit to tie the game and win it in overtime. Even though they were undersized, Italy had a +10 rebounding advantage over the bigger Spanish squad. While Marc Gasol (32 points, 10 rebounds) and Sergio Rodriguez (18 points, six assists) showed up, the rest of the team didn’t. NBA players Ricky Rubio (two points, one assist in 16 minutes), Rudy Fernandez (four points on 2-of-8 shooting), Jose Calderon (five points on 2-of-10 from the field) provided little help. No one from Spain could defend Alessandro Gentile (25 points) who drew seven fouls and made 11 straight free throws.
Spain, winners of the last two Eurobaskets, are missing some of their best players and this will likely eliminate them from a third straight title. Pau Gasol, Serge Ibaka, Juan Carlos Navarro, Nikola Mirotic, Victor Sada and Felipe Reyes all elected not to participate.
While Finland did not advance to the quarterfinals they finished with the same 2-3 second round record as Spain. Finland completed their second round play with a 92-76 win over host Slovenia. Point guard Petteri Kopenen was solid throughout the event, averaging 13.3 ppg, 3.4 rpg and 4.8 apg. Forward Gerald Lee (Old Dominion) also played well and came up with 17 points against Slovenia on 7-of-8 shooting. Although they are heading home, Finland performed well ahead of expectations.
With the improvement of 7-footers Jonas Valanciunas and Dontas Motiejunas, Lithuania has to be considered one of the favorites to capture the title. Valanciunas (7.9 ppg, 6.0 rpg) has not gotten much playing time in some games, but his performance seems to improve the more playing time he receives. If the two youngsters get it together in the next round to give leading scorers Mantas Kalnietis and Linas Kleiza some help, the Lithuanians will be in a good spot to advance.