I'll admit that I have been starved to watch some more meaningful basketball over the summer.
One of the many ways to get that fix is by watching international competition, especially if Wizards players are on the roster. Yes, the FIBA Americas tournament is still ongoing, but no Wizards players are playing, and Nene is not playing for Brazil.
However, starting center Marcin Gortat and soon-to-be Wizard Tomas Satoransky are representing Poland and the Czech Republic respectively in EuroBasket, where two Olympic berths are at stake. With Bullets Forever community members Hands11 and Bartek Biadasiewicz writing not one, but two FanPosts on the tournament, let's talk about the tournament as it goes on. After all, we have a couple players of interest playing, and there are many NBA players (and future prospects) who are here as well.
So let's get to it after a looooooooooooooong day of watching live streams of game after game. :)
Poland holds off Bosnia and Herzegovina, 68-64
The Polish were ahead by as many as 17 points in the third quarter of this game. But Bosnia went on a huge run hile the Polish couldn't score a basket for over the last eight minutes of the game, they were able to get the deficit down to three late in the game, but it ultimately wasn't enough.
Four players scored in double figures including Gortat, who scored 10 points, grabbed 7 rebounds, and dished 3 assists. However, I feel that Gortat should be utilized more in the offense than he was on Saturday. For Bosnia, Andrija Stipanovic led all scorers with 20 points on 8 of 12 shooting.
Highlights of the game are embedded above from FIBA's YouTube channel.
Czech Republic blows out Estonia, 80-57
The Czechs scored 38 points in the paint and dominated this game start to finish. This game was a total whooping
Satoransky scored 7 points, grabbed 7 rebounds, and dished 3 assists in the win, but former Wizard Jan Vesely was the hero of the day as he scored 16 points in 22 minutes of action. He also made some highlight dunks early in the game which you can see in the video above.
Other games in Group A
Israel beat Russia, 76-73 - The Israelis went on a 17-0 run in the third quarter of the game after being down by eight at halftime. Kings forward Omri Casspi led all scorers with 21 points and grabbed 9 rebounds. For the Russians, Andrey Vorontsevich scored 15 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in the loss. This is definitely one of several notable upsets for the day.
France holds off Finland in overtime, 97-87 - When I look at the French roster, which has a good number of NBA players, I felt this should be a comfortable win for them. France is also the defending EuroBasket champions by the way. But Sasu Salin made a clutch three point shot with 18 seconds left to send the game into overtime.
Fortunately for France, OT wasn't a drama-filled five minutes as they closed the game out quickly. Spurs star Tony Parker led the French with 23 points and 3 assists.
Germany beats Iceland 71-65 - The score of this game makes it seem like the Icelanders almost beat one of the top teams in the world. They outscored the Germans 22-12 in the fourth quarter, right? However, an 11-0 German run to cap off the third quarter made this a 59-41 game at the start of the fourth.
Dirk Nowitzki, the ageless wonder scored 15 points, while Hawks guard Dennis Schroeder added 15 more points, grabbed 6 rebounds, and dished 4 assists. Jon Steffanson led Iceland with 23 points.
Serbia upsets Spain, 80-70 - The Spanish had a strong start, but the Serbians dominated the middle of this game, as they outscored their foes, 51-31 in the second and third quarters. Nemanja Bjelica led Serbia with 24 points and 10 rebounds in the win.
Bulls forward Pau Gasol led the Spanish with 16 points and four more players scored in double figures. If Serbia took care of the ball better, they would have run Spain out of the gym as they outshot them, 47.5 to 35.4 percent.
Turkey edges Italy, 89-87 - The Italians won the field goal percentage battle by a lot, and Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari scored 33 points as they came back from a double-digit deficit. But Turkey was able to pull through thanks to free throws. Semih Erden led their team with 22 points and 8 rebounds in the thriller.
The Netherlands (Holland) upset Georgia, 73-72 - Despite having a good number of NBA players like former All-Star Rik Smits over the years, the Dutch, or Oranje have been irrelevant in FIBA Europe, let alone the world. They haven't been in EuroBasket since 1989 and only went the FIBA World Cup once in 1986.
On Saturday, they were leading the heavily-favored Georgians for much of the game and were up 60-48 after Henk Norel made an early basket. But Georgia inevitably came back and were leading 72-68 with just over a minute left. However, the Oranje scored four points in the final seconds. Oddly enough, Georgia and Mavericks center Zaza Pachulia turned the ball over which set the stage for the Netherlands' winning points.
Of the teams in EuroBasket, the Dutch have one of the most intriguing stories on how they got here. The team was almost dissolved in 2012 due to lack of funding and interest, according to their Wikipedia page. They even had to forfeit games they won due to having too many naturalized players a couple years ago.
Since their world power soccer team hasn't been so hot lately, now is as good time as any for the Dutch to root for the basketball team since they now have a real chance to get into the elimination rounds. I'm not saying that the Netherlands should give up on soccer -- that's like asking NFL fans in the US to give up on football -- but the basketball team is giving the Dutch reason to root for them.
Greece blows out Macedonia, 85-65 - Like many of the other games on Saturday, there were times where things were a little close for comfort for the Greeks, as they only led by 5 with just over a minute left in the third. But an 11-2 run over the next four minutes left no doubt that they were too much for the Macedonians.
Kings center Kosta Koufos had a double-double, and so did Yannis Bourousis for the Greeks. Bucks wing Giannis Antetokounmpo only scored 9 points but made this fast break dunk where he hung on the rim:
Croatia defeats Slovenia, 80-73 - Despite a game where they turned the ball over 19 times, a 43-25 rebounding advantage was key for the Croatians to win on their homecourt in Day 1. Krunoslav Simon scored 20 points off the bench to lead them to victory.
Other games in Group D
Latvia pulls away late to beat Belgium, 78-67 - The Belgian Lions kept this game close throughout much of the second and third quarters. They also took a 52-51 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
However, the Latvians made three straight three-pointers, including a four-point play by Kristaps Janicenoks with 7:17 left. The three-point shooting at that crucial stretch was key for Latvia, where they made 8 of 22 in the game. Alex Hervelle led the Belgians with 13 points.
Despite the loss, D.C.'s Belgian Basketball Player in Residence remains optimistic:
Sure Emma Meesseman's rooting for her Lions, but Belgium has a good chance to get their first win tomorrow. They're playing the same Estonian team that Satoransky, Vesely and the Czechs blew out.
The house will be divided when Belgium plays the Czech Republic on Wednesday, but we'll cross the bridge when we get there. :)
Lithuania edges out Ukraine, 69-68 - The margin of victory was a little close for comfort to say the least for the Lithuanians, but they'll take the win considering that they played poorly for their standards. Raptors big man Jonas Valanciunas led Lithuania with 19 points and 11 rebounds while Kyrylo Fesenko scored 19 points for Ukraine.
The key difference maker in the game was free throws where the Lithuanians made 20 of 25 shots, while the Ukrainians only made 2 of 3. That's right, Ukraine only attempted three free throws all game. Expect them to make adjustments in their next match.