With Spain and France safely into the EuroBasket semi-finals, the other two remaining berths in the final four go on the line on Thursday. But can the tournament’s surprise duo pull off at least one more shock?
Few would have expected Ukraine and Italy to survive the opening round, let alone to arrive at the quarter-finals in Slovenia. And although both are underdogs, they’ve got the advantage of having absolutely nothing to lose.
Italy vs Lithuania
The Italians are 2.95 to stun Lithuania and the Azzurri will rely heavily on their shooting stars, Luigi Datone and Marco Belinelli, to put their more experienced foes under some early pressure. That won’t be easy for the 1999 champions with the Lithuanians holding opponents to just 27% in three-point shooting and to an average of 66.1 points per game.
That could keep the total points under the line of 144.5, available at 1.90. But where Italy could run into most trouble is getting past the wall of big men in their way. Although he’s been hugely impressive, take under Alessandro Gentile’s points line of 13 at 1.85 and go over Mantas Kalneitis’ assist line of 5.5.
Ukraine vs Croatia
Ukraine will need to break Croatia’s seven-game winning streak to progress but Mike Fratello’s side are 4.00 to win and +8.5 on the handicap. To have a chance, they’ll need to count on their shooters getting hot from distance, especially Sergii Gladyr.
But the Croatians, who haven’t reached the semis since 1995, have a considerable advantage inside, leading every team here in rebounding. Ante Tomic is 1.85 to grab more than 8.5 rebounds and the same price to take over 10.5 points. But there’s good value on Viacheslav Kravtsov to score over 6.5 for Ukraine at 1.85.
Thursday’s other game pits Serbia against Slovenia in the round of 5-8th place. The Serbs were woeful against Spain yesterday and they’re just 2.55 to defeat the hosts and book a spot at the 2014 World Cup. But although Slovenia are -4 on the handicap, their energetic style may be hampered by the fatigue of playing less than 16 hours before, in their quarter-final loss to France.
Best bet: Take under 144.5 total points in Lithuania-Italy, available at 1.90.