EuroBasket 2015, Day 1 roundup
EuroBasket 2015 got off to a thrilling start on Saturday as the action started in all four host cities – Berlin, Germany; Montpellier, France; Riga, Latvia; and Zagreb, Croatia. Jan Vesely of Fenerbahce Istanbul paced Czech Republic to a big win over Estonia, Robin Smeulders of EWE Baskets Oldenburg hit a game-winning shot as Netherlands edged Georgia, while Nando De Colo had a big night as France edged Finland in overtime.
The co-host nation France needed to work extra time before defeating Finland in overtime 97-87 in Montpellier. Nando De Colo of CSKA Moscow helped France take 37-25 margin midway through the second quarter, and the hosts led by as many as 63-47 in the third and 74-60 early in the fourth. But Petteri Koponen of Khimki Moscow Region sparked a 0-12 run that brought Finland back into the game, and his jumper tied it at 78-78 with 48 seconds left.
In the battle of the heavyweights, Serbia beat Spain 70-80 in a game that Serbia ended on a 0-9 run to grab an important opening day victory. Spain was held scoreless in the starting 5 minutes, but behind Real Madrid’s All-Euroleague selections Felipe Reyes and Rudy Fernandez made a 21-4 run to open 21-9 up lead. But Serbia came back through Nemanja Nedovic of Unicaja Malaga who strung together 10 points, including back-to-back threes that helped Serbia even things up just before the break, 34-34.
Croatia opened EuroBasket with a hard-fought 80-73 win over Slovenia in the Croatian capital. Slovenia started the game better through Zoran Dragic and Jaka Blazic, but behind EA7 Milan’s Kruno Simon and Cedevita Zagreb’s Luka Zoric, the hosts rallied from an early 8-point deficit to take 44-38 halftime lead. After the break Zoric and Simon kept Croatia ahead and a driving layup from Ukic gave Croatia 63-50 late in the third quarter as Croatia never looked back.
In a game that went down to the wire in Riga, Lithuania survived a thriller to edge Ukraine 69-68. Mantas Kalnietis of Zalgiris Kaunas hit a triple early in the second quarter to help Lithuania to 25-14, but Ukraine answered with 0-12 run capped by Lokomotiv’s Kyrylo Fesenko for 25-26. Real Madrid’s Jonas Maciulis and Robertas Javtokas of Zalgiris made sure Lithuania went into the break in front 33-26.