Eurobasket 2017 – Group stage aftermath
This report focuses on the group stage results, Round of 16 matches, standout players and early Eurobasket MVP candidates.
After a disappointing tournament, France was ousted by Germany. Joffrey Lauvergne managed 13 points and 7 rebounds in just over 16 minutes, but France was outscored by 14 points while he was on court. But he proved once again he could be valuable contributor for his national team by averaging 10.7 points on 50% shooting and adding 6.2 rebounds in 19.5 minutes per game.
Pau Gasol and Davis Bertans are in the Quarterfinals after Spain and Latvia rolled over Turkey and Montenegro, respectively. Bertans scored 5 points while adding 3 rebounds and a couple of assists. Meanwhile the great Spaniard gave an all-around performance with 11 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists with a team best +19 while on court.
Overview of the Tournament
Two teams proved, without a doubt, to be the best on the Eurobasket so far – Spain and Slovenia. Both finished the group stage with the perfect score 5-0. Spain played under Sergio Scariolo, one of the best European coaches, and Igor Kokoskov, an assistant coach at Utah Jazz and the first non-American assistant coach in the NBA, coached Slovenia.
Going into the Round of 16, Spain continued without SG Alex Abrines, currently on the roster for the Oklahoma City Thunder. He also missed four games during group stage, and that could be the only major obstacle to their chances, as the team is rather thin on SG position. The bookies, however, are convinced they will go all the way, giving just 57 cents on a dollar while 2nd favorite Serbia has 9-1 odds to win at Eurobasket (before the Round of 16 games). Spain led the competition in assists and rebounds per game, and played great defense as well, committing only 13.4 fouls a game, 4.5 less than the next best team (Croatia). They have only one player – Pau Gasol, of course, in the top 50 scorers of the group stage and they rotated their lineups, using the fourth quarter to rest their best players in almost every game. In the Gasol brothers, Ricky Rubio and Sergio Rodriguez, they have enough experience and star power to withstand any challenge.
Slovenia, on the other hand, has leaned heavily on their star player Goran Dragic and next year’s top 3 prospect, Luka Doncic. Dragic is probably the best player of the group stage, averaging 24.4 points and 5.2 assists per game. But he was slowed down in the Round of 16, but Slovenia rolled over Ukraine without his usual output. While their game preparation and team morale are great, and they have no major flaws in their game, being in the middle of the pack in most categories may prove costly later on.
Joining Spain and Slovenia in the Quarter Finals are Serbia, Latvia, Russia, Germany, Greece and Italy.
Serbia is the team with most international success lately, losing finals to USA in both the Olympics and the World Cup. They are the most depleted team on Eurobasket injury-wise, and adding Nikola Jokic's decision to skip national duty this summer, Serbia is in the unusual position of unrealistic expectations. But coach Sasa Djordjevic decided not to look for excuses. They play great defense, move the ball, and managed to get the first seed ahead of Latvia, Russia and Turkey. That means they will avoid Spain until the gold medal game, should they manage to advance that far. Arguably the best Euro player last year, Bogdan Bogdanovic leads his national team after making a jump to Sacramento this summer.
I will take a leap of faith for the last contender, but I firmly believe that Latvia has all the means necessary to be one of the biggest surprises of this Eurobasket tournament. They move the ball very well, averaging 24 assists per game (second only to Spain), are 2nd in turnovers (behind Serbia), and play an uptempo style with a lot of three point attempts. Porzingis is a star already, and his supporting cast fills their respective roles perfectly. They have a chance against Slovenia, and if they manage to stop Dragic, like Ukraine did couple of days ago, they could easily find themselves in Semifinals.
Russia, Italy and Greece are the only teams that managed to oust higher seeds from the tournament. Alexey Shved lead Russia against Croatia, in a 101-78 victory after outscoring them by 19 points in the second half. Greece and Italy, on the other hand, managed to do that while relying on their defensive play.
In order to get an MVP honor, a player should be on a team that proceeds all the way to the Semifinals at least. There are a few deserving candidates, some of which will not get through the Quarter Finals games.
Goran Dragic is going up against Kristaps Porzingis, while Dennis Schroder has a tough job playing Spain in quarterfinals. On the other side, Russian star Alexey Shved will try to add to his 27 points 12 assists performance in Round 16 for a possible Semifinal match up against Bogdan Bogdanovic, probably the most consistent player on tournament so far. The current Eurobasket MVP is Pau Gasol, who took a lot of rest this year, but it is not impossible for him to win another award if Spain goes all the way and other candidates crumble under pressure.
- Alexey Shved – 23.7 pts., 3.2 rebounds, 6.7 assists on 43.5% FG
- Kristaps Porzingis – 21.8 pts., 5.7 rebounds, 2 blocks on 52.4% FG
- Goran Dragic – 21.2 pts,, 5 assists, 1.8 steals on 46% FG
- Dennis Schroder – 23.2 pts., 5.2 assists, 1.8 steals on 46.9% FG
- Bogdan Bogdanovic – 19.3 pts., 5.3 assists, 3.2 rebounds on 47.6% FG
- Pau Gasol – 15.6 pts, 8.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists on 53.5% FG
Of course, the stats do not tell the whole story, but seeing any other player snatching MVP award from those players on this list this year is not realistic.