TrueHoop: Milos Teodosic
After sleepwalking through the preliminary and qualifying rounds, Spain showed up to the knockout stage of Eurobasket '09 with a fury. The Painted Area has the full story of the Spaniards' win over France and Serbia's mild upset of Russia:
Pau Gasol: 28 and 9 for Spain
(Janek Skarzynski/AFP/Getty Image
Spain 86, France 66For more analysis of the Spain-France quarterfinal, please visit 48 Minutes of Hell.
I guess Spain can flip the switch when they want. After appearing aimless in the first four games, Spain sent a message to the rest of the field with this thrashing of previously unbeaten France. Third game in a row where Spain has dominated their opponent.
Spain's scrambling defense gave France major issues, forcing bad passes all over the court. Had little concern for France's perimeter shooting ability which led to unfettered help by Spain defenders. The Gasol Bros. paid very little attention to the French bigs.
Spain never went with much straight zone, but Pau Gasol (also Marc Gasol) was basically playing a one-man zone by sloughing off in the paint the whole game. Anytime a Frenchie tried to get to the rim, there was always a big waiting to help. Parker rarely had easy access to the rim.
Anywhere Tony Parker went with the ball, extra Spanish defenders followed. Actually, anytime the ball went below the free throw line, you had extra Spanish bodies flocking to the ball. This forced the French ball-handlers to pass the ball out under duress, often leading to turnovers (19 French turnovers). Spain had 13 steals, six of which belonged to Rudy Fernandez.
Pau Gasol simply ate up the French bigs. We wondered if Gasol's length would be an issue for the undersized French front line. It was a major issue. Gasol was a major factor in fouling out Ronny Turiaf in 21 minutes. Ali Traore fouled out in eight minutes. Yikes. This was a game where Joakim Noah could have come in handy.
Pau scored in anyway he wanted: multiple rolls to the rim, a few alley-oops, lefty hook, righty hook, turnaround banker, baseline spins and a 18-foot jumper for good measure. A clinic the late, great Pete Newell would have loved.
Most of Rudy Fernandez's 16 points came behind the arc (4-for-6), including three bombs in the first quarter. Juan Navarro wasn't quite as efficient as he was the night before, but he was still a factor. Navarro dropped a patented floater and a runner going across the lane on his way to 11 points and 4 assists.
Ricky Rubio had a solid outing with 8 points and 4 assists -- he even knocked down two 3pts. Ricky did have four turnovers. Was active defensively, not afraid to pressure Parker. Just don't make the mistake that Rubio shut him down, it was a team effort.
Tony Parker had been averaging 18 points per game before this game, but Spain held him to six points. When Parker did get some open looks on the perimeter, he continued to struggle with his jumper -- 1-for-8 from the field. Rarely had much room to operate, too many Spanish defenders shadowing him.
Ronny Turiaf took advantage of the Gasols not paying much attention to him. Ronny cut to the open spaces well to lead Les Bleus in scoring with 12 points on 6-of-9. Boris Diaw was due for a good game after a no-show the previous game, and he did alright with 9 points (all 3-pointers) and 6 rebounds.
France had been playing some of the best defense in the tourney before this matchup. But they had not seen an offense with this type of firepower in the prelim rounds. France had been holding opponents to 40 percent overall shooting, but Spain was able to hit 52 percent from the floor. France is normally a strong rebounding club, but the Spaniards helped their cause with 10 offensive boards to France's 20 defensive rebounds.
Spain gets a day off before they take on the winner of Turkey-Greece. France still has work to do for a 2010 Worlds qualifying spot. France moves into the Loser's Bracket where they will face the loser of the Turk-Greece game. If France wins that game, they earn a trip to the Worlds. If they lose, they might have one more game where they can qualify, but that depends on Turkey's status.
Serbia 79, Russia 68
Serbia scored a decisive victory over the Russians, securing a spot in next summer's 2010 Worlds. Russia came out strong in the first quarter, scoring 24 points to Serbia's 21. But then Russia's offense slammed to a halt.
Serbia took the game over in the second quarter and never relinquished control the rest of the way. The key was a 17-0 run to start the second quarter. Russia didn't score their first points of the second quarter until the 2:30 mark and were outscored 20 to 4 in the quarter.
Serbia's lead ballooned to 20 points midway through the third. Serbia committed a bunch of turnovers in the late third to early fourth that let Russia makes things semi-interesting, but Serbia was never seriously threatened down the stretch.
The usually meticulous Russian defense had trouble dealing with Serbia's pick/roll action. Russia allowed Serbia to score on 61 percent of their 2-point attempts, that's 20 percent points higher than their average defending 2-pointers for the tourney. Just not your typical defensive outing by the Russians. Seemed slow with their help, seemed to lack their normal concentration.
Serbia looked like the fresher team, which is a little strange since Russia was the team with the off-day on Wednesday. Might have something to do with the way Serbia spreads their minutes around -- 10 guys average 14 minutes/game. And this was another game where Serbia got nice contributions up and down the roster.
Point guard Milos Teodosic ran the pick/roll masterfully today creating opportunities for himself and his teammates. Milos hit a few quick dribble pull-up jumpers and found teammates with some precise passes (12 points, 4 assists, two 3-pointers). Teodosic has been one of the top PGs in this year's Eurobasket.
Nenad Krstic came out of the gates sharp scoring nine of his 10 points in the 1st quarter. While his starting frontcourt partner Novica Velickovic chipped in with 13 points and five rebounds, scored a few put-backs off his 3 offensive rebounds.
Serbian sniper Uros Tripkovic's duty is to drill jumpers, and that what he did today -- 4-for-6 from deep, few pull-ups for 18 points. Former G-State Warrior Kosta Perovic was vital to Serbia's 2nd quarter run scoring 11 of 13 points in the quarter. Kosta scored off a few rolls, a pick/pop, a lefty hook, and a dunk in transition.
Russian bigman Timo Mozgov wasn't dominant like last game, but did contribute with 10 points and six rebounds (three offensive). Mozgov finished a couple of rolls with hard dunks, even connected on a lefty hook.
Sergey Monya probably had the best all-around game for the Russians with 12 points (two 3-pointers), three steals and two blocks. Monya has been one of the top defenders in the tourney. Vitalii Fridzon led all Russian scorers with 15 pts on a perfect shooting day of 6-for-6 (three 3-pointers)
Russia didn't help themselves with a 9-for-19 free throw shooting display. Letting the Serbs grab 10 offensive boards while only securing 14 defensive boards wasn't helpful either.
Russia's tourney is not done yet, they still have a
chance at a qualifying spot. Like France, Russia moves on to the Loser's Bracket where they face the loser of Slovenia-Croatia. Serbia will face the winner of Slovenia-Croatia on Saturday.
There were decisive matches at Eurobasket '09 in Poland on Monday. The Painted Area was glued to the action, and has this update:
GROUP F: Spain 84, Lithuania 70
Spain officially slammed the door shut on Lithuania's Eurobasket run by outscoring the Lithuanians 49-19 in the middle quarters.
Pau Gasol and the Spaniards looked strong ... but they still need another win to reach the knockout stage.
(Janek Skarzynski/AFP/Getty Images)
The turning point came early in the second quarter where Spain went on 23-0 run to start the quarter. Lithuania went scoreless over the first seven minutes and only produced eight points in the quarter.
After scoring 24 pts in the first quarter, Lithuania could only generate a total of 19 points over the next two quarters. Things started off very promising in the first quarter with Lithuania making nine of 15 from the field.
Then, Spain really turned on the defensive pressure after the first quarter and the Lithuanians wilted. Spain scrambled in the half-court to contest/change shots and extended pressure up the floor that produced turnovers.
Lithuania has always been vulnerable to aggressive ball pressure (even with Sarunas Jasikevicius around), and struggled mightily handling the dogged Espana defense. Lithuania coughed the ball up 19 times vs. Spain, and now lead the tournament in turnovers with over 15 per game.
Active hands for the Spanish that led to 12 steals. The steals were not just thefts in passing lanes, four out of five of the steals came on strips right out of the ball handlers' hands.
Pau Gasol led the Spanish assault with 19 points, eight rebounds and three blocks. Pau ignited the second quarter explosion with two straight strong finishes in transition. Spain was able to get Pau great looks near the rim, he rarely missed (8-for-10) and he usually end these touches with dunks.
Easily the best ball movement from the Spaniards in the tourney -- 25 of their 31 field goals were assisted. Ricky Rubio had been pretty quiet for much of Euro '09, but you could tell the revved up pace of the game got him flowing. Ricky (9 assists) pushed the ball ahead well and smothered the opposing guards. FIBA doesn't officially chart fast break points, but imagine Spain had one of the top transition scoring days of the tourney.
Rudy Fernandez joined Rubio is creating chaos on both ends of the floor with quick hands (three steals) and attacking on offense (11 points). Jorge Garbajosa dropped two 3pts. in transition and ended with 10 points & 4 assists. Juan Navarro did most of his damage on jumpers -- 3-for-6 on 3-pointers for 13 points ...
... Spain (2-2) isn't quite out of the woods just yet. If they lose to Poland on Wednesday, they are done. Doesn't matter what happens in the Serbia-Lith game because Spain would lose the tiebreaker as of right now. If Spain wins, they're in and could be seeded anywhere from second to fourth in Group F.
GROUP F: Slovenia 76, Poland 60
Slovenia rolled to a decisive win that puts Poland's 2010 Worlds' qualifying chances in serious jeopardy. Slovenia continues to impress with their array of weapons on offense.
Much like the Spain-Lith game, Slovenia blew this game open in the middle section. Slovenia outscored Poland 42-23 in the middle quarters. Was never much of a contest in the second half.
Poland had a decent offensive groove working in the first quarter and was getting the crowd behind them. After a 17-point first quarter, Poland only could muster 23 points over the next two quarters. Poland just went ice cold, clanging one shot after the next.
Slovenia made sure the ball was in Erazem Lorbek's hands often and it paid off well. Lorbek showed off his multi-skilled arsenal scoring on the blocks with a hook, turnaround jumper and a face-up jumper. Lorbek stepped outside to hit two pick/pop 3-point jumpers. He also did a nice job passing from the high & low post. Lorbek had a mighty fine stat line -- 20 pts (7/14), 9 rebs, 5 assts, & two 3pts.
Slovenia's Primo Brezec hit two long 2-pointers up high and did a nice job flashing from the weak side for some easy scores on his way to 12 points on 6-for-7 shooting. Point guard Jaka Lakovic kept up his strong Euro '09 campaign with 14 points, six assists, four rebounds and three steals. Lakovic set-up his bigs well on pick/pop and continued his sharp shooting with three deep balls (18-for-35) ...
... No worries for Slovenia (3-1) besides seeding for the quarters. Been very impressed with Slovenia and like them to squeak by Turkey on Wednesday. If they beat Turkey, they win Group F and grab a No. 1 seed. It's do or die for Poland on Wednesday vs. Spain. It will be a tall task to take out the Spaniards, but they do have the home crowd.
GROUP F: Turkey 69, Serbia 64 (OT)
Turkey kept their undefeated record alive by outlasting the Serbs in overtime. Ragged game where both teams shot less than 40 percent from the floor and a total of 52 fouls were whistled. The Turks made things hard on themselves by shooting 18-for-31 at the free throw line.
The Bucks must be giddy with the way Ersan Ilyasova has ripped it up this summer. Ersan carried the Turks today with 22 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks. Ersan was damn efficient with a 7-for-12 shooting day and smoked the ball from long range -- 4-for-6 on 3-pointers. Ersan's stellar play covered for a miserable night had by Hedo. Hedo did contribute with seven rebounds and four steals, but his awful 1-for-16 shooting day wasn't helpful.
Omer Asik should be commended for his 11-point (5-for-6 shooting), six-rebound day. But Omer nearly single-handedly submarined his squad chances with a 1-for-10 day at the FT line. Serbia's offense was a disaster -- combining 31 percent shooting with 18 turnovers is never advisable. Point guard Milos Teodosic had one of his finer national team games with 16 points, eight assists and six rebounds. Milos and Novica Velickovic each drained three 3-pointer for the Serbs. Oklahoma City's Nenad Krstic managed to add 11 points and seven rebounds, but also had four turnovers. Serbia (2-2) can shake this loss off quickly because they're qualified for the quarterfinal no matter what happens in their game on Wednesday. Serbia is just playing for seeding purposes like Turkey. Turkey (4-0) plays Slovenia to determine the winner and No. 1 seed of Group F.
For the full analysis, go to The Painted Area.
And then there were 12. Eurobasket 2009 begins its second phase and The Painted Area has it all sorted out for you:
Can Pau Gasol lift Spain out of its first-round funk?
(Photo by Janek Skarzynski/AFP/Getty Images
Thursday was an off day so teams could transition from the opening round to the qualifying round (second round). Starting Friday in the Polish cities of Bydogoszcz & Lodz, teams play three games in their group with a day off between games. The top four teams from each group qualify for the quarters starting on Sept. 17th.
Israel, Latvia, Britain, & Bulgaria have been eliminated leaving 12 teams divided into two groups (Group E & F). Group E appears to be a little weaker, while Group F is packed with quality teams. You will have two pretty good teams not make the quarters out of Group F, while you will see a quarterfinal slot awarded to one of the three weaker qualifying round entries (Germ, Russ, Macedonia) in Group E. No off days in Group F.
Group E: (Playing in Bydogoszcz)
1) Greece (2-0)
2) France (2-0)
3) Croatia (1-1)
4) Germany (1-1)
5) Macedonia (0-2)
6) Russia (0-2)
GREECE: Should have no trouble moving onto the quarterfinals. Greece's change from a methodical defensive-minded brand of basketball to a more free-wheeling offensive team looks successful, so far. Greece's offense has looked exacting with constant movement and spacing. Greece has outscored their opponents by a combined 66 points and lead the tourney with 58 percent from the floor. The Croatia game where they won by 8 points, wasn't not quite as close as the score should indicate.
schedule: Fri., vs. Germ./Sun., vs. Russ./Tues., vs. France
FRANCE: Though, they went 3-0 in Group B, they weren't all that impressive. Group B was easily the weakest, and Les Bleus only beat Russia & Germany by five pts each. As usual, the half-court offense has gone thru major lulls. And obviously, this team can't hit from outside. Still having trouble shooting -- 14-for-53 (26 percent) behind the arc and 45-for-81 (56 percent) at the free throw line. France is the worst deep-shooting team left in the field. We've beaten this into the ground, but still holds true -- pack the painted area all game vs. France. France counteracted their ragged offense like they always do -- with great defense and rebounding.
schedule: Fri., vs. Mace./Sun., vs. Croat./Tues., vs. Greece
CROATIA: Nice contributions from their big PG combo, Roko Ukic and Zoran Planinic. Both have done a good job getting into the lane to create scoring opportunities. Nikola Vujcic had been the leader of the deep, veteran frontline scoring in double figures in each game. Expect them to secure a spot in the quarters with wins over Russia & Germany. France game is a toss-up.
schedule: Fri., vs. Russ./Sun., vs. France./Tues., vs. Germ
GERMANY: Not surprisingly the Germans have found it difficult to score with no Dirk. No one who is a reliable No. 1 option, and the Germans shot 38 percent from the floor in the opening round. Jan Jagla has brought his usual activity, but when he's your leading scorer you're in trouble. Only reason they're still playing has been the horrible free throw shooting of their Group B opponents. France, Russia and Latvia combined to shoot 65-for-120 (54 percent) from the free throw line vs. Germany. Germany is in better shape for a quarterfinal berth than Russia or Macedonia because they get to carry over a win into the second round. Don't see them beating Greece or Croatia, have a chance vs. Macedonia. A win vs. Macedonia would be huge for their playoff chances.
schedule: Fri., vs. Greece/Sun., vs. Mace./Tues., vs. Croat.
(FYR) MACEDONIA: Macedonia has a legit shot at the quarters because they should be favored to beat Germany, and are closely matched with Russia. Wouldn't be shocked if they pushed France. Gotten strong play from their frontline of Jeremiah Massey, Todor Gecevski and Pero Antic. Vrbica Stefanov has also been his usual steady floor genera selfl.
schedule: Fri., vs. France./Sun., vs. Germ./Tues., vs. Russ.
RUSSIA: Offense has not been quite as putrid as I thought it would. Kelly McCarty's athleticism has been a nice addition on both ends of the floor after the loss of Andrei Kirilenko and Viktor Khryapa. Gotten solid play from their PG combo of Sergey Bykov and Anton Ponkrashov. Will be tough to get victories against Greece and Croatia. Really can't afford a loss to Macedonia.
schedule: Fri., vs. Croat./Sun., vs. Greece/Tues., vs. Mace.
GROUP F: (Playing in Lodz)
1) Turkey (2-0)
2) Slovenia (1-1)
3) Serbia (1-1)
4) Spain (1-1)
5) Poland (1-1)
6) Lithuania (0-2)
TURKEY: Turkey has looked like a totally different team than the one that stunk up the '07 Euro. The Turkish offense that couldn't get out of its own way two years ago, has been smoking this year. Most importantly, they are converting shots around Hedo Turkoglu. Turkey has a point differential of +54 and is shooting 54 percent overall, 42 percent from 3. Their NBA pair of forwards have not disappointed. Hedo and Ersan Ilyasova have shown their mismatch ability creating offensive opportunities all over the floor. Ilyasova has led the Turks with 17 points per game on 58 percent & seven rebounds per game, while Hedo has added 13 points per game. Hedo has teamed with Kerem Tunceri and Ender Arslan to bring some type of order to their PG position. The PG play has left a lot to be desired the last few years, but nothing to complain about this year. Arslan has been hitting runners off ball screens & burying his open shots (8-for-11 on 3-pointers.).
schedule: Sat., vs. Spain./Mon., vs. Serb./Wed., vs. Slov.
SLOVENIA: Were some questions how all their talent would mesh, and so far, so good. Looked sharp vs. Serbia, and pushed Spain to OT with Matjaz Smodis only playing five minutes. The strong defense from their '07 run seems to have transferred over. No surprise the offense has looked crisp with the collection of shooters this team can put on the floor at once. Slovenia is shooting 51 percent overall, 36 percent from deep. PG Jaka Lavovic (14 points per game) has led the way buried jumpers off of screens -- Jaka is 9-for-19 from 3-pointers. Boci Nachbar has been ballin' as well with 12 points per game on 54 percent and 5.7 rebounds per game. Erazem Lorbek has been a nice option on the blocks with his sharp footwork -- 13 points per game and 5.7 rebounds per game. Phoenix Sun Goran Dragic has been a defensive pest once again--gave Rubio & Spain issues -- and even adding a little scoring to the mix with 11 points per game. They can take it up a notch if Smodis can go heavier minutes in the next round. Supposedly, his back is feeling better.
schedule: Sat., vs. Lith./Mon., vs. Pol./Wed., vs. Tu
SERBIA: Have gotten nice contributions up and down their deep, young roster. 10 players average at least 14 mins/game. Stunned Spain with an impressive defensive effort. Nenad Krstic (12 points per game & four rebounds per game) has been a solid option on the blocks and protecting the rim. Guards Milenko Tepic and Milos Teodosic have run the offense efficiently and stayed away from forcing the action. Need to get their shooting back on track after a poor display in the first round -- 24 percent from 3.
schedule: Sat., vs. Pol./Mon., vs. Turk./Wed., vs. Lith.
SPAIN: Not sure what's going on with this team. Serbia totally whupped them, Britain gave them a huge scare, and Slovenia roared back to push them to OT. Maybe they're too many players to keep happy with playing time. Maybe it's the coaching change (Spain's third change in as many years). Maybe they're disinterested. Whatever the reason, it's hard to figure because this team rarely, if ever, goes-through-the-motions. Should get props for controlling Slovenia for most of the game, but questions resurfaced when they let Slovenia comeback in the fourth to force OT. Expect them to get in a groove in the next round. But I thought they would destroy Britain, but that didn't happen.
schedule: Sat., vs. Turk./Mon., vs. Lith./Wed., vs. Pol.
POLAND: Our sleeper pick has performed admirably in front of the home crowd. The frontline has been killing it. Marcin Gortat has been an interior force and also turned himself into an offensive juggernaut the last week. Gortat is averaging 17 points per game (fifth-best) on 67 percent (fourth-best) and 11 rebounds per game (second-best). We highlighted some of Gortat's newfound offensive skills. PF Maciej Lampe has been an inside-out terror scoring 18 points (third-best) & grabbing seven rebounds per game. Gortat and Lampe are leading the tourney in blocks as well. The offense has functioned very well shooting 50 percent from the floor and 38 percent from 3-point. land. Don't have an easy road to the quarters with Serbia, Slovenia and Spain on the upcoming schedule.
schedule: Sat., vs. Serb./Mon., vs. Slov./Wed., vs. Spain
LITHUANIA: We knew there would be struggles without their two legendary playmakers, Saras Jasikevicius and Ramunas Siskauskas. The shot selection has been spotty, which is a rarity with the normal precision offense we expect from this national team. Their patchwork backcourt has been predictably lackluster. Deep frontline has been solid, but they could play better as well. Burly big Marijonas Petravicius (16 points per game on 71 percent shooting) has been a nice interior presence drawing fouls, finishing around the basket, and pushing people around. Linas Kleiza has been a little uneven and can't find his deep touch (0-for-7 on 3s) The normally sweet-shooting Lithuanians have been off from deep -- 32 percent from 3. Lithuania's quarterfinal chances are dicey with a 0-2 record and having to face brutal gauntlet of the top three of Group C.
schedule: Sat., vs. Slov./Mon., vs. Spain./Wed., vs. Serb.