Final day of 2nd round play for Groups A & B
Serbia def. Turkey (68-67)
This game was unnecessarily close as Turkey were playing horribly, shooting a putrid 16 of 29 (55%) from the charity stripe. Despite this, the Turks had a chance to win the game with 4 seconds remaining of an inbounds play but Ilyasova's clean attempt didn't connect. Turkey ultimately didn't deserve to win and its openly known their will be a major reshuffle in the team.
Teodosic was back to the form that had won me over early in the tournament. Mostly connecting from outside, he had a modest 5 assists with some sloppy turnovers. He was arguably the most jubilant after the narrow victory, Serbia crucially recovering from three Straight losses at the hands of power teams they hope to leap frog in the Quarter Finals - Spain, France and Lithuania. Their recent play and this unconvincing elimination game performance doesn't inspire confidence for this talented team moving forward.
I was able to score free tickets valued at 1638LTl (€400) through a random series of connections which led a to a member of the Turkish PR staff. I was promised access for only the first two games as the coveted Lithuania game was reserved for a local supporter.
-------------------------------------------------------Spain def. France (96-69)
I had a French journalist in my hostel who suspected their might be some gamesmanship between the two favorites of the Tournament. Both were already guaranteed places in the Quarter finals, this game ultimately only deciding matchups and scheduling. In some respects it was better to lose in order to gain an extra day of rest.
Spain ended up playing their usual star-studded roster whilst France sat out NBA stars Joakim Noah and arguable Tournament MVP Tony Parker. The game was close entering the 3rd quarter as France's B-Unit managed to stay within one-point at the half, 38-39. Rudy Fernandez single-handedly tore the game open in the third scoring where he scored 13 of his 15pts, including a succession of steals that lead to fastbreak layups.
I had put money on the game, Pau scoring under 20+ which I achieved but failing miserably on the prediction of a French victory. Considering Parker didn't play, betting he wouldn't score 20+ would have been a luxurious bet. Gambling is bad. After the game the Spanish coach had some stinging words about France's sportmanship.
Lithuania def. Germany (84-75)
I hadn't expected to see the Lithuania game but was pleasantly surprised when a no-show opened the doors for me. All Lithuania games are highly coveted, especially so in the later elimination stages. It was quite the honor to see the the passionate green sea of support for their National team. The atmosphere was electric, I was able to witness the cheers of every Lithuanian point and change in possession inside the arena that I'd been accustomed to hearing from watching the outdoor big screens.
The game was tied at 75 a piece with less than 2min remaining. Lithuania were unable to break away as the Germans nagged them with timely threes. Lithuania's young NBA prospect, Jonas Valančiūnas would counter with some thunderous Alleys to keep their noses in front. The game was ultimately decided by 9pts. I was unaware at the time that Germany had to win by 11 to deprive the host nation of a Quarter Finals berth, this ignorance heightened the tension of a game that was actually well in hand. Superstar Dirk Nowitzki played a lacklustre game whilst fellow NBA big man Chris Kaman topscored, he posted a convincing 25pts but his last attempts were two missed free throws with the game within reach for his German side.
VIDEO: Valančiūnas Highlights VS Germany
(15 pts, 4 rbs, 2 blocks in 18mins)
(15 pts, 4 rbs, 2 blocks in 18mins)
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