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Some people would say the tournament starts now; the rest was warm-up and a way to decide who meets who in these matches. Italy or Turkey, not to mention Serbia, would beg to disagree

So the QF are

Spain v Germany

Slovenia v Greece

These are played on Thursday - The winners meet in the first semifinal

Lithuania v Croatia

France v Russia

These are played on Friday

My guess for the semifinals is

Spain v Greece

Lithuania v Russia

Spain will (hopefully) beat Lithuania in the final. Russia may get the bronze, as they need it more than Greece


I got great feeling that France would beat Russia. I'm sure Tony PARKER is more that motivated to do as he would want to compete in the Olympics after having a great season with San Antonio SPURS.

But I must agree with you Diego on one thing. Spain does look invincible at the moment unless Dirk NOWITZKI can inspire the Germans.
I also think Russia v France may well be the tightest game of the lot

I think, however, Russia have more resources and well used they should win them the game. France has Parker and a rock solid side,a physical style of play. They defend hard and play games in short scores. Russia are something else than Kirilenko, and their long distance ability may break France's defense. There will be 2 key indicators for this game: Are the Russians scoring 3 pointers and how high/short the score is. If we are playing 80+ points, Russia will win. If the game is close to 60 it'll be France

However, I think Lithuania would have a better chance against Russia than against France. Plus there's an old rivalry in it

Lithuania should beat Croatia and Spain should beat Nowitzky. I mean, Germany. Spain hve too much depth in the squad as to be beaten by a one-man band, though this one man is a superb player.

We can discuss the Greece v Slovenia game better. It is the same scenenario as in the France v Russia. Greece plays France role and Slovenia plays Russia, with the importnat difference that Greece have something else in their game than the French and Slovenia something less than Russia. I'd say Greece will win this 3 of each 4 times they play the game. Slovenia haven't seen themselves in this situation, while the Greeks are reigning European champions and world runner up. Experience may win this for Greece, though I think Spain would have an easier game against Slovenia
Russia 75 France 71

(Viktor Khryapa 16 pts + 7 rebs + 6 assists, JR Holden 15 pts | Boris Diaw 17 pts + 5 rebs, Tony Parker 15 pts)

Russia to the semis!

Once more free throws betrayed the French and namely Parker.
It is really an amazing achievement for Russia. After results in the past few years they look returning to the elite or maybe it will be just a temporary jump up? If you look how Russians played in Eurobasket this year then it isn't a big shock but if somebody had told me before Eurobasket that they will be in semis I would have laughed such talks.
I am glad to say I more or less guessed my prediction. Tough game, but nearing 80 points Russia would win <img src='<#EMO_DIR#>/cool.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt='Cool' />

Favourites beforehand were 3: Spain, Lithuania and Greece. The rest was open. It'd be interesting to see if Slovenia can beet the Greeks. I'd call them more of a surprise, and Croatia, than Russia.

We play in 18 minutes...
Half Time, Spain 40:27 Germany

Unless we do really ba din the second half, this should be done now.

Germany can only beat us with a short score. Around 80 or 90 points, they don't have enough players to score with Nowitzki

If the game is going to 70, we will have to score badly from<now on, and they still have to 43 points at least.

I don't see Spain scoring less than that, really. If we keep Germany in 45 or 50 points at the end of the 3rd quarter it is finished
They have told this little story on the radio tonight. It happened in the hotel in Madrid during the morning and it's real.

Jasikevicius meets Nowitzki in the hotel, and he says "Big game tonight with Spain"

Nowitzki: "Nah, they are going to thrash us"

Clever guy... Spain 83:55 Germany (...and it was 80:43 before we relaxed)

The fact is, while we would only pick Nowitzki for our national side (and every other country), germany would be happy with any of our 12 guys. All the Spanish players are better than all the Germans except Nowitzki, and even so Pau Gasol (7 points tonight) isn't that far of his level.

Spain's depth may be the key to the end of the tournament.
A confident win for Spain but Germany are one of the weakest teams in quarter-finals in my opinion. They can give a tough game to any team but they lack of depth a lot. The "miracle" of 2005 might not happen for some years for Germany. Meanwhile Spain enter semi-final with a very strong win. They could face Greece again in Eurobasket and yet again they would replay World Championships final. Greece are obviously more dangerous in defence but we saw what happened when they met Spain in second round. Slovenia is better attacking team. I believe they could win today and give a tough game for Spain.
No, no, no. The final of the world championship is not getting replayed if we meet Greece. We won it and that is it <img src='<#EMO_DIR#>/biggrin.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt='Biggrin' />

That game would be different anyway, and even different to the one in the second round. Of course I'd be more than happy to repeat the score of either of them.

Tonight's games are key for the teams involved. Croatia, the days of Toni Kukoc, were the best European side and Sabonis' Lithuania the ones to challenge them the hardest. This was 1992 or so. Croatia started a slow slumo and Lithuania had a bad run (they missed out on some tournament finals after a qualifying round in Spain but we weren't involved - was it pre-Olympics? or pre-Eurobasket?) but they came back to stay. I think the last world championship was a bad reflection of Lithuania's true level, but a defeat tonight would leave them out of the top 4 again,perhaps too many times in a row. Croatia weren't expected to come back to the elite just yet, so getting there will be a huge achievement for them

Greece have gone this far without anything to cheer for. They were well beaten by Spain and Russia and pushed by Croatia. Not even thegame with Portugal was settled till late. A defeat now will make their tournament look poor. Slovenia, on the other hand, have nothing to lose... except their best chance to get a medal, a place nobody expected them to be. Playing without presure is not as good as it seems, as too much relaxation can take you out of the game for lack of concentration. Slovenia have never seen themselves going for serious honours, and Greece have plenty more experience on it. It is, again, a battle of 2 styles. If we see high scores, then Slovenia have a chance. If we play to 60 points, then Greece may just edge it

To finalise, I think Greece and any other team like them make a mistake: If you are good at basketball, better than your rivals, you are better off in an open field game. Spain sort of challenged Germany "Let's see who can score more points; see if you get to 80". Lithuania are the same. It is not coincidence that they will probably meet in the final
Two years after 2004 Olympics were disappointing for us. Since Jasikevi?ius didn't play at all. Šiškauskas played in 2005 Eurobasket but missed Worlds while Macijauskas did it vice-versa. Kauk?nas has played for the NT only 6 years ago. Despite missing 5-6 main players we finished 5th in 2005 and played really well. In 2006 things got worse as the team had not only player problems but also terrible morale. That was the wors possible performance from us but we still got 7th place. Well that's past.

Since Ram?nas Butautas took over as a head coach we see a huge improvement. First of all he got almost all our best players except Macijauskas and Ilgauskas who both missed for serious reasons and promised to play in Beijing if we get there directly or help in the team in the qualifying tournament if we need to play there. Speaking about things on the court, Butautas is known as a defence specialist and he managed to bring that to the team. We were always very good in offence but defence wasn't the strongest part of the game. We can see much more solid defence in Eurobasket. When you defend well you get much more opportunities to score yourself plus your opponent is demoralized.
Well I love it when I get it right <img src='<#EMO_DIR#>/cool.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt='Cool' />

I said Lithuania were the only team that would go through from Group F and they did. Just. 74:72 over Croatia and back into the top 4. The game with Russia should be very interesting.

I also said Greece would win if te game ended in the 60-ish (63:62 they won) and that Slovenia's lack of experience could cost them. They were 51-60 up if I am not wrong. Then the lack of know how to win finished with them. A shame for them, really. The psychological bareer of the QF is hard to break; it took us a great generation of players to do so

Now, I don't think greece can constrain Spain to 62 points, and that our players can score 80+ again, perhaps we will end un 75 but Greece can also finish under 50 against us. I think this extra day of rest can also be key (I do not quite agree with it, though 4 QF games in a day may be difficult to fit: 10pm, 7:30pm, 5pm, 2:30pm?)

I will stick with my first prediction: Sn, Lithuania, Russia, Greece
That was really tense game yesterday. Our players looked very nervous. It is understandable since they were under high pressure but the team is experienced and most of the players are 27-29 years old. Of course I can't not to mention Croatian defence. They did great from the start. Shooting loads of 3-pointers. After 1st quarter they were 4/10 from 3pt zone. They managed to turn Šaras from the game. He was often left against double defence and made 5 turnovers and only a few hist trademark passes. Jasikevičius ended the game with 8 assists though. There was a problem with rebounds too. Lithuania was the best reboundidng team in Eurobasket but we let Croatians to take lots of ball and repeat shots. And when we had a short run 4th quarter it looked like the Lithuania has woken up. We got 7 points lead but then we let Croatia to come close. Zoran Planinic and Marko Popovic missed crucial free-throws luckily.

It was a good lesson and I am confident that we will see a different team tonight.

As for Greece, they play the least attractive basketball. I can't stand it. The score is usually around 40 pts in 4th quarter. Doing all they can in defence and don't letting their opponents to get a lead. And in the end they trail by a few points then score a few points and win in the last second <img src='<#EMO_DIR#>/angry.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt='Angry' />