Eurobasket Day 5: Ukraine vs. Georgia; Turkey vs. Poland; Russia vs. Bulgaria
Ukraine vs. Georgia
It was close in the first half, with an excited Fes celebrating his buzzer-beating layup at the end of the first quarter with some exuberant fist pumping. From the end of the first quarter to the end of the second, Fes was on the floor for nine consecutive minutes and put in 6 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 blocks.
However, the momentum completely swung in Georgia’s favor in the third quarter. Between 4:00 in the 2nd and 2:40 in the 3rd, there was a 22-point swing from +10 Ukraine to -12 Ukraine. Fes was awarded 4 free throws in the final minute of the 3rd, and hit the first but missed the last 3. In the case of the last one, “missed” = “ball only made it 2/3 of the way to the basket before entering into its downward trajectory.”
Ukraine pretty much gave up in the end. With this loss, they’ve been eliminated from Eurobasket but are still playing the winless Belgium tomorrow. Fes’ line in this one: 7 points, 4 rebounds, 1 steal, and 3 blocks in 14 minutes.
Turkey vs. Poland
With Omer Asik getting into early foul trouble, Enes Kanter checked in just three minutes into the game and stayed on the floor until 7:58 in the second. While he held his own down low, his impact was minimized because Poland simply wasn’t missing shots. Kanter did, however, record his first assist of the tournament in the quarter.
His second assist was, for a young and inexperienced big, gutsy and truly something to behold. Grabbing the ball off of a Hedo block, Kanter hurled a touchdown pass from mid-key to mid-key–this one traveling an even greater distance than Andrei’s similar pass a few days ago. The bucket [temporarily] put Turkey up by 6.
Enes really showed us the good stuff and flashes of go-to-guy-ness in the second half. He was drawing fouls left and right, and it seemed like every time I looked up, he was at the free throw line. Apart from the aforementioned pass and showing range on a long jumper, Kanter also exhibited ice in his veins as he hit two clutch, clutch free throws (his 9th and 10th of the game) with 31 seconds left and Turkey down one, to put Turkey up one. In short, Jazz fans have plenty of reasons to be excited.
Final line: 19 points (5-8 from floor and 9-10 on FTs; team high), 5 boards, 3 assists, 1 block, 1 foul, and 6 fouls drawn in 22 minutes.
Russia vs. Bulgaria
Well, that’s what I get for talking yesterday about how not good Bulgaria is; Russia kind of barely squeaked by them. Although Russia was able to maintain its lead throughout the game, it always felt like they were on the verge of collapsing and giving it away. They did have the prettiest shot chart ever in the first quarter, though:
Russia turned the ball over like there was no tomorrow in the first half, and Coach David Blatt had a “Jerry Sloan gon’ have to choke a bitch” face/demeanor the entire game. Andrei didn’t shoot well in the first half (and by “didn’t shoot well” I mean “drove me crazy by going up soft”), but went 5-8 in the second half. He also improved his Eurobasket FT% from .476 to .600 by hitting 8-9 from the stripe. Final line: 25 points (8-15), 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 4 steals (5 TOs) in 30 minutes.
Spotted in the crowd as the camera panned across the arena after the game: Kid in Jazz jersey waving “Russia” scarf.
With this win, Russia is 4-0 going into its final first-round game against the also undefeated Slovenia.
[Videos for Russia and Ukraine were both pretty short today, so I’ll combine them with tomorrow’s.]