Eurobasket Day 2: Turkey vs. Great Britain; Russia vs. Georgia; Ukraine vs. Slovenia
Russia vs. Georgia tipped off 15 minutes after Turkey vs. Great Britain, which meant I was trying to watch both and kind of ended up processing neither. Too add confusion to confusion, both Russia and Turkey were in red playing opponents in white, and Georgia’s distracting “suspender” uniforms didn’t help.
Turkey vs. Great Britain
Turkey looks like a completely different team than in the friendlies, which apparently they have a reputation for.
Turkey ran away with the game from tipoff and never looked back. Enes Kanter looked pretty darn good scoring nine points during a 13-0 run in the second quarter. As in the last game, he started the second half. This time, noticeably sans ginormous knee pads. So much for him being a never-nude. His knees had to be quivering in embarrassment at being so vulnerably naked in public for the first time…kinda like that one time, at basketball camp, when Matt Harpring showed up in shorts sans knee braces.
The negative side of Kanter being without knee pads is that it made it way harder to pick him out when the camera was zoomed too far out. (FYI, I look for floppy hair in Russia’s games, the largest man on the court in Ukraine’s games, knee pads in Turkey’s games, and the combination of bald spot and beard in Greece’s games.)
Kanter played the second most minutes on the team (22), and ended up with a line of 11 points (3/5), 5 rebounds (3 offensive), and 3 blocks.
If anyone cares, what I think I’m going to do is hold off for three more days and make a supersized Enes Kanter highlight video at the end of the first round of Eurobasket.
Russia vs. Georgia
No technicals at Eurobasket for hanging on the rim. On his first dunk, AK pulled the basket down so hard that the shot clock went off.
There’s nothing I can say about Andrei Kirilenko that I haven’t already said in the last few weeks. He is a basketball wizard. Having seen his whole career with the Jazz and being a huge AK fan, obviously I know what he can do. It doesn’t prevent me from being amazed by him, though.
Saw one game recap headline that said, “Kirilenko Broke Georgia.” That about sums it up. Russia turns it over on a shot clock violation; AK steals it on the other end. Chasing down loose balls and rebounds with the game on the line? Check. Like in the friendly game against Israel, the announcers in this game kept giving AK “Bravo’s” (not to mention an “ai yai yai!”) and openly applauded him on air. Actually, AK kinda had to do all the little things because he couldn’t hit a foul shot this game to save his life (2/7).*
*After the game, Russian coach David Blatt joked that he had to call in a witch doctor from Zimbabwe to fix the free throw shooting, and that it was lucky Russia had the next day off so that the witch doctor would have time to get to Lithuania.
Russia had a double-digit lead for long stretches, but went completely stagnant in the fourth. Georgia closed to within 2 early in the final period, but neither team could connect and the score was 52-50 from 7:17 to 3:50. In the end, Russia prevailed thanks to AK’s rebounding, circus shots, and a high-bouncing free throw.
Ukraine started a stinking 2-15 from the floor (extending halfway into the 2nd quarter) and Slovenia had more than doubled its score (13-27). After Fes checks in, Slovenia scores the next 7 points. Then, Fes scores on this monster dunk that is Ukraine’s first field goal in the quarter and in almost 10 minutes. He follows that up by getting fouled and hitting both FTs.
This was probably Fes’ best game so far this summer (11 points on 4-5, 1 rebound, and 1 block in 15 minutes) and maybe even Ukraine’s best game even though they lost. [Keeping in mind that the score was 57-38 Slovenia through three quarters,] Mike Fratello played Fes almost the entire fourth quarter. With Fes on the floor, Ukraine closed to within 3 with 2:30 left and it was still a 4-point game with 1:24 to go. With :41 left, Fratello subbed Fes out (no word on whether Fes asked to be taken out a la Miracle in Miami or it was Fratello’s decision).
It was a 2-point game with 4 seconds left, which was the closest the game had been since 13-11, but Ukraine couldn’t close it out.
I’ve gif’ed Fes’ dunks, but you really should watch the video to hear how LOUD they were. (This time’s Fes highlights really are highlights, not just shots of him sitting on the bench.)
Oh, and there was this minor skirmish when Fes was fouled going up. He barely reacted, but one of his teammates came racing over and got in the Slovenian player’s face as the refs stepped between them. Meanwhile, Fes looked decidedly unperturbed. Perhaps he had just thought of a great joke…