Eurobasket Day 2 - Gasol and Bertans in action
One of the most anticipated games of the first round was between Latvia and Serbia. Probably the most talented generation of Latvian players ever, including NBA talents Davis Bertans and Kristaps Porzingis, squared off against the 2016 Olympics silver medal winners. Even without seven of the players that lost to Team USA in last year’s Gold Medal game, the Serbs were slight favorites and pulled away late for a 92-82 victory.
The officials made a number of dubious calls, but they didn’t seem to favor either side as both teams struggled in a choppy game. Latvia started strongly, led by Porzingis and Davis Bertans’ older brother Dairis.
But after Dairis went cold in the second quarter and with Porzingis battling foul trouble, Davis answered the call and carried his team into the fourth quarter. He managed 16 points and 6 rebounds before fouling out at the end of the game. Bertans (4 for 9) was forced into a lot of contested shots off isolation plays as Latvia struggled to create open looks. Davis did have a perfect performance from the free-throw line (7 for 7), capping a very energetic performance.
Latvia kept it a game until the very end, but it unfortunately wasn’t enough. Former Spurs fan favorite Boban Marjanovic (13 points) and Serbia won 92-82, led by recent Kings acquisition Bogdan Bogdanovic’s 30 points.
The next game on the schedule was Spain versus Montenegro, with Orlando Magic star Nikola Vucevic going up against the Gasol brothers. Spain was the clear-cut favorite and showed why early in the first half. Despite a first-half blowout that ended 51-29 going into the break, Pau Gasol played major minutes in the third quarter before sitting out the fourth.
He managed an all-around performance with 10 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and a pair of blocks. He also passed Dirk Nowitzki for second place on the all-time Eurobasket points list. (The current leader is, of course, Tony Parker.)
Spain thoroughly trashed their opponents, with the final score of 99-60 saying enough about this one-sided contest. They are the favorite to win it all, and the scary part is they’re still warming up.