EuroBasket 2015 round up (group stage, day 1)

Eurobasket 2015 has begun in four countries for the first time ever. But all 24 nations have the same goal: To book a spot in Lille and go on to qualify for the Rio Olympics, next summer.

Group A

Poland tipped off the Montpellier chapter of Eurobasket with a narrow 68-64 win over a stubborn Bosnia & Herzegovina side.

Adam Waczynski led the Poles with a team-high 15 points, but they were far from convincing even if they enjoyed a 51-34 advantage at one point. Marcin Gortat looked a frustrated as the guards were seemingly unable to feed him the ball.

Andrija Stipanovic had 20 for Bosnia.

Israel went on a 17-0, second half tear, inspired by veteran Omri Casspi to record a 76-73 win over Russia in game two.

Allowing Russia to shoot 60 percent from the field in the first half hurt the Israelis but they then restricted the Russians to just 17 percent in the second half as they registered the win.

Casspi had 21 points and nine rebounds for the winners.

The hosts and overall favourites France overcame their first obstacle after they beat Finland 97-87 after a session of overtime in the day’s final game in Montpellier.

The 2013 MVP Tony Parker led the holders with 23 points as he made up for missing the potential game-winner in regulation.

Group B

Germany were ran close by debutants Iceland but led by NBA duo Dirk Nowitzki and Dennis Schroder, eventually won 71-65 in Berlin.

Nowitzki and Schroder both scored 15 points for Germany, but had to withstand a spirited fightback by Iceland in the second half.

Jon Steffansson had 23 for Iceland.

Serbia sent a message in their first game by comfortably beating one of the favourites Spain 80-70.

For the first ten minutes though, Spain played like a wounded animal after an early exit at last year’s World Cup and led 21-11, but the world silver medallists hit back and offensively looked impressive.

Last season’s Euroleague MVP Nemanja Bjelica was highly impressive, scoring 24 points and adding 10 rebounds to his stat sheet.

Danilo Gallinari hit 33 points for Italy but it wasn’t enough as Turkey won 89-87 in the day’s final game in Berlin.

Semih Erden led the Turks with 22 points.

Group C

Netherlands recorded the first shock of Eurobasket by beating Georgia 73-72 in Zagreb.

Leading 36-26 at the half, many thought that Georgia would come back and eventually get into pole position, but the Dutch had other ideas. Holding on to record a famous first win after over 25 years away from the European arena.

Charlon Kloof nailed four three-pointers in scoring his 22 points for the Netherlands, while also collecting three rebounds, two assists and two steals.

Greece pulled away late on as they swept FYR of Macedonia aside 85-65 to start their campaign impressively.

The Greeks had only led 55-50 with a minute left in the third quarter when Kostas Sloukas and Kostas Koufos closed the period with baskets – Koufos tipping in his miss at the buzzer. And the Greeks opened the fourth quarter with a 7-2 run to increase the margin to 66-52.

From there, the tiring Macedonians had no answer.

Olympicos’ Georgios Printezis paced the victors with 18 points. Aleksandar Kostoski led all with 20 points for the Macedonians.

Co-hosts Croatia began their campaign with an 80-73 win over neighbours Slovenia in the day’s final clash.

The Slovenians began the brighter of the two sides after taking a 23-17 lead after one, but the Croatians found their form in the second and thanks to veteran Krunoslav Simon, who paced the winners with 20 points, they were able to secure an opening day win.

Group D

Czech Republic started the group stages in Riga with a resounding 80-57 win over Estonia.

The Czechs held the Estonians to just nine points in the first ten minutes and remained comfortable throughout with the lead becoming 21 points within the opening seconds of the third quarter.

Despite starting off sluggishly, group hosts Latvia came through to beat Belgium 78-67 in their opening game.

A four-point play from Kristaps Janicenoks helped Latvia open up a 61-54 advantage with 7:17 remaining, and from there, the Lions were unable to answer.

Janicenoks led the winners with 14 points

Eurobasket 2013 runners-up Lithuania edged out Ukraine 69-68 in the final game of the day in the Latvian capital.

When Ukraine’s 19-point, 11-rebound leader Kyrylo Fesenko fouled out with his team trailing by six with 4:49 to play it appeared to spell the end of his team’s challenge.

But some clutch shooting from his supporting cast set the scene for a grandstand finale only for the Ukrainian side to struggle to create a shot in the final four seconds after Jonas Maciulis gave the Lithuanians an edge from the free throw line.

Paulius Jankunas led Lithuania with 22 points.

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Photo: FIBA