The quarter-finals of EuroBasket 2013 get under way on Wednesday in Ljubljana and, based on form so far, there is a real possibility that two long-time basketball powerhouses could be dropped out of contention.
It might not come to pass, but reigning champions Spain and 2011 runners-up France have been far from convincing so far in this tournament, losing three games apiece to date and failing to capitalise on their respective cores of NBA performers.
Serbia vs Spain
Despite their struggles, Spain – chasing a title three-repeat – remain 2.50 favourites but they face a genuine test in the shape of Serbia, whose mix of young talent and a sprinkling of experience has proven potent so far.
In Nenad Krstic, the Serbs – who are 15.00 to strike gold in Sunday's final - have someone who can go toe-to-tie with Marc Gasol and they have enough size in reserve to throw extra bodies at the All Star centre and limit his offensive output. That’s going to mean the Spanish need more from their backcourt, especially Jose Calderon who is good value at 1.80 to score more than 8.5 points.
Serbia are generously priced at 3.05 for the win but it could fall either way. Better to go under the match points line of 142.5, available at 1.90.
Slovenia vs France
France have drifted out to 6.00 to win the championship and they’ll need to block out the noise and raise their game when they take on Slovenia in the second quarter-final. With the balance even, this could come down to a shoot out between Tony Parker and Goran Dragic with the Frenchman at 1.85 to go over 17.5 points and the hometown hero on a line of 16.
When Slovenia lost to Finland last time out, Dragic told me it was nothing more than a practice game so don’t think the Slovenes have suddenly lost their touch. They’re +1.5 on the handicap at 1.90 and this could be one that goes right down to the wire, perhaps even to overtime.
Take under the match points line of 142.5 in Serbia-Spain, available at 1.90.