ISTANBUL (FIBA EuroBasket 2017) – The Quarter-Finals begin on Tuesday with two intriguing matchups.
A confident Germany will be out to knock over champions Spain, who are riding a 12-game winning streak in the FUBA EuroBasket tournament dating back to the Group Phase in 2015.
In a mouthwatering contest, filled with some of the biggest and brightest stars, unbeaten Slovenia meet in-form Latvia, who have won five straight games to peak at the right time.
Germany v Spain (17:45 CET/18:45 local time)
Tournament form – Germany: WWLWLW – Spain: WWWWWW
Key Match-up: Dennis Schroder v Ricky Rubio. Schroder has been electric and is the heartbeat of Germany. He has averaged 23 points and 5 assists, and provided immeasurable energy to continually spark his team. That was evident against France in the Round of 16 when his spectacular steal and pretty pass in transition ended in a thunderous dunk to Daniel Theis, which ignited Germnay to a comeback victory.
Rubio can be sometimes overshadowed by being in a team with the Gasol brothers but his value was evident against Turkey in the Round of 16. With the hosts storming back in front of their vocal fans, Rubio stepped up under pressure, scoring 13 of 16 points in the fourth to ensure Spain’s title defense remains on course.
Breakdown: To state the obvious, Germany will need to play at their best to knock over Spain. However, giving them hope, Germany possess highly talented players in Schroder and Theis to cause problems for Spain. They need to be aggressive and try to get Spain on their heels. On defense, Germany have to sustain the pressure for 40 minutes.
Spain have so many weapons that make them hard to stop. With the Gasols in the middle and Willy Hernangomez, Spain will be looking to feed them against a smaller German frontcourt, but, they can also kick out to shooters if things aren’t working in the inside.
Perhaps the biggest advantage Spain has is their experience and leadership, which came to the fore against Turkey. Simply, a young Germany has to play a flawless game to beat them.
Slovenia v Latvia (20:30 CET/21:30 local time)
Tournament form – Slovenia: WWWWWW – Latvia: LWWWWW
Key Match-up: Kristaps Porzingis v Anthony Randolph. Porzingis, obviously, looms as a major headache for Slovenia, whose vulnerability remains on the inside despite having Anthony Randolph among their ranks.
Slovenia will likely rotate bigs on Porzingis with Vidmar Gasper’s strength likely to test the 22-year-old. But Randolph is clearly the most talented big for Slovenia and will need to reproduce his fine performance in the Round of 16 against Ukraine, where he was a two-way monster.
If Randolph can somewhat match Porzingis’ output then Slovenia will fancy their chances.
Breakdown: In a fascinating match-up, Slovenia will play through their play-making wizards – captain Goran Dragic and teen phenom Luka Doncic. The duo have been irresistible and can do it all for their teams. They will relentlessly drive to the rim in an effort to get Porzingis into foul trouble but can also kick out to their slew of shooters if the rim is protected.
With so much emphasis on Porzingis, Latvia like to move the ball around and find open shooters. Against Montenegro in the Round of 16, they were lights out making them almost impossible to stop. Janis Timma and Davis Bertans add the punch alongside Porzingis, ensuring Latvia has enviable firepower.
As long as foul trouble doesn’t come into it, this could turn into a shootout.