The first round of EuroBasket ends today. And with much more parity than anyone expected, victory in Slovenia remains paramount for a number of teams to survive, including the big trio of Spain, France and Lithuania.
A win for each of the three title contenders would assure them of places in the second round. Defeat, and their hopes remain up in the air. And it may be a sign of the Lithuanians’ nervousness that they pulled former NBA player Linas Kleiza out of their main rotation against Montenegro yesterday, doing just enough to get a 77-70 victory.
They face Bosnia-Herzigovina today with their unfancied opponents at 4.00 on a handicap of +7.5. The Bosnians also have a shot at advancing so expect a tight contest and go under the points line of 144.5 at 1.91. And consider taking under Kleiza’s points scored line of 11.5 at 1.80.
Game of the Day: Croatia vs Czech Republic
This could end up being a winner-take-all clash with the Croats (3-1) trying to stay ahead of the Czechs (2-2), and avoid the possible lottery of a tie-breaker with Spain and Slovenia in Group C.
Croatia showed some spark in defeating the hosts in overtime, with Bojan Bogdanovic again stepping up. He’s averaging 18.5 points per game but his team’s asset has been a defence which is holding opponents to 66.8ppg.
That’s been the Czechs’ hallmark as well, a necessary trait given they have no three-point presence. Expect this one to stay under the points line of 144.5 but look at the Czechs on the +5.5 handicap.
One to watch
Germany are already out but they’re great value at 3.25 against Israel.
Consider a punt on Finland at 8.25 to beat Greece, with both teams already qualified. And with France needing victory over Belgium to be utterly sure of progressing, back Tony Parker to go over 16.5 points at 1.85.
Back Bosnia on the +7.5 handicap vs Lithuania at 1.90