The mathematics are very simple for Ukraine at EuroBasket on Sunday: win and they go to the quarter-finals. The only problem? They may need to defeat in-form Lithuania to get there.
At least, Mike Fratello’s side will have the advantage of knowing exactly what they have to do when they go into their last second round game in Ljubljana. They could still be overtaken by Latvia for the fourth qualifying spot out of Group E but for that to happen, their rivals would need to overcome already-eliminated Belgium earlier in the day and then hope that their Baltic neighbours do them an extra favour by knocking off the Ukrainians.
On form so far, that seems the most likely outcome. Ukraine have been very impressive in spells, playing to their strengths and showing against Serbia that they are no respecter of reputations. However, they are a 4.50 long-shot to beat Lithuania, who should top the group if they claim victory. In successive wins over France and Belgium, the 2003 champions have hinted that their status at 5.50 third-favourites for the European title is not mis-placed.
Latvia are 1.12 to stay alive by getting past Belgium but despite their impressive offense, this could be more of a nervous grind so go under the total points line of 150.5 at 1.91. There’s also a generous punt on Davis Bertans to score over 11 points at 1.85.
Sunday’s other game sees Serbia face France and with both teams definitely through to the last eight, this is all about seeding in the knockout draw. The French have been unconvincing and there is a sense that Tony Parker – who is 1.85 to score under 19 points - is feeling a hangover from the fatigue of what was a long NBA season. With fresh legs, and something to prove, look at the Serbs at 3.20 for the win or at +5.5 on the handicap at 1.91.
With one round of games left in the group stages, it’s also the right time to pick up a bargain in the tournament betting. Spain are still 2.40 favourites, even though they’re not guaranteed a quarter-final spot. With so many upsets in Slovenia so far, if you’re feeling adventurous it’s worth a look at Serbia at 20.00 to keep up that trend.
Go under 146.5 total points in Ukraine-Lithuania at 1.90
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