TrueHoop: Kostas Koufos
The Painted Area is following every second of action of Eurobasket 2009 in Poland, and has this report on Day 2's action:
GROUP A: Greece 76, Croatia 68
In a battle of Group A heavyweights (and medal contenders), Greece's near flawless first half offensive execution was too much for Croatia to handle. Greece scored 52 points in the first 20 minutes on 76 percent shooting.
The Greek offensive spacing was superb with the wings staying wide and lots of weaving action up high in the first half. Lots of motion which made it hard for Croatia to get to shooters.
But the Greeks slowed considerably in the 2nd half, particularly in the 4th quarter where they only managed 11 points. Sloppy fourth quarter with too many fouls & TOs. Croatia chipped back into the game in the 2nd half by getting out in transition and getting to the free throw line.
Even with the sharp offensive execution by the Greeks, this game was tough to enjoy. Like the Lith-Turkey game from the night before, we had another Eurobasket game marred by too many whistles -- a combined 49 fouls.
Olympiakos' Giannis Bourousis showed why he's one of the top centers outside the NBA with 19 points & 8 rebounds. The 7-foot Bourousis was pure in the first half burying two 3-pointers. & a long jumper off the dribble. The big Greek scored 17 of 19 in the half on a perfect 7-for-7 shooting. Bourousis even added an emphatic dunk over Kasun off a roll that drew a foul.
Vasilis Spanoulis, always a better long shooter when he can get a little dribble into his shot, buried a key 3-pointer off an iso up high to seal the victory. Spanoulis sliced into the lane for some points (11 points), but never got consistent deep penetration, and still struggled trying to force passes (5 turnovers).
Greek SF Strat Perperoglou knocked down some 3-pointers for 10 pts, and Utah's Kostas Koufos added 10 points on short shots mostly in the first half.
Roko Ukic was the lone bright spot for Croatia's offense in the first half hitting a variety of runners. Ukic couldn't connect with his jumper (no surprise), but he did lead all Croatia scorers with 15 points...
GROUP B: Germany 76, Russia 73
Wasn't expecting an aesthetically pleasing game, and pretty much got what I expected. A battle of teams without dynamic scoring options ended with both teams combining to hit 35 percent of the shots attempted for the game.
Combine this putrid shooting with 60 fouls combined, and you have a recipe for another Eurobasket contest that was tough to follow. If there is one overriding theme in the first few days: way too many whistles. Doesn't make for a memorable viewing experience.
Russia sunk their chances by failing to capitalize on these aforementioned whistles. Russia went to the line 49 times, but only made 28.
Germany controlled the first half but let Russia stay within reasonable striking distance by putting the Russians on the free throw line 28 times. Russia made a run in the third where they pieced together a few positive offensive possessions and Germany helped with poor shot selection.
As usual, Russian head coach David Blatt mixed up his defensive looks, which was successful in the second half. We saw some extended pressure on occasion and some off-kilter zone alignment with man principles.
The always active Jan Jagla led the German squad with 19 points, 11 points, & 2 blocks. Jagla known for his off. boarding, grabbed 7 offensive rebounds, including a big off. board that drew a foul with 3:00 left. Jan Jagla has always been valuable as a live body who crashes the glass. He's just always been in the unfortunate situation of playing the same position as Dirk...
Reserve PG Heiko Schaffartzik scored 10 of his 13 points in the 1st quarter thanks to two pull-up 3-pointers (his specialty). Heiko only made one basket after the first quarter, but it was a clutch 3-pointer to give Germany a 71-67 lead with 1:45 left ... Schaffartzik cleverness with the dribble & lateral quickness helped him set up four assists
Russia's PG play wasn't too bad either. PG Sergey Bykov was key to Russia chipping into Germany's 14-point halftime lead. Bykov scored Russia's first eight points of the third. Sergey mixed some stellar drives with a few jumpers to score all his 11 points in the third. But Bykov was the primary culprit of Russia's foul shooting nightmare -- Bykov shot 3-for-11.
The good news for Russia, they have qualified for the 2nd round with Latvia's loss to France. The last second Round spot out of Group B will be determined by the outcome of the Germany-Latvia game. If Germany wins, they're on to the next round. They can actually afford a loss, as long as it's by less than nine points. But that scenario is contingent on Russia losing to France. If Russia beats France, then whoever wins the Germ-Latvia game outright goes to the second round.