Day 7 & 8 FIBA Preview

Croatia vs. Serbia

        Serbia has been inconsistent in group play, winning four games and losing just one. Their big highlight was knocking off Argentina 84-82 despite Luis Scola’s 32 points, but their sole loss was to Germany in double-overtime. Serbia could be a tough team to beat, especially now that they have center Nenad Kristic back from a suspension for his role in the brawl versus Greece in an exhibition right before group play. The Serbs also feature Kosta Perovic, a tough inside talent who thrived in Kristic’s absence. Unfortunately for Croatia, the overall talent and team chemistry isn’t there yet. They have four solid players in Ante Tomic, Roko Ukic, Bojan Bogdanovic and Marko Popovic, but even they won’t be enough in their test with Serbia.

- - - - -

Spain vs. Greece

        Just a few weeks ago, most analysts would have predicted this as a medal-game matchup, but due to both teams lacking consistency in group play, they find themselves entertaining the challenge in the knockout round. The best matchup in this contest will be the overbearing physical play of Greek center Sofoklis Schortsanitis against the taller and quicker Marc Gasol.

        Also, despite scouts cutting down on Rubio’s talents, he is still averaging over 6 assists per game. He can utilize the talents around him in Gasol, Fran Vasquez, Jorge Garbajosa, Rudy Fernandez and Juan Carlos Navarro, but he is struggling to score points for himself and lock opposing guards down defensively. He will struggle with the Greece’s crafty ppoint guard Dimitrios Diamantidis.

- - - - -

Australia vs. Slovenia

        Slovenia has quietly been one of the tournament’s better teams thus far, led by two guards, the young Goran Dragic and the veteran Jaka Lakovic. Dragic has served as the playmaker, while Lakovic has been the team’s biggest perimeter threat, knocking down six 3s in the contest against Brazil. Big man Primoz Brezec has been on top of his game scoring inside, but continues to struggle rebounding the ball, just as he did in his days in the NBA. The key to Slovenia’s team is Bostjan Nachbar, a versatile inside-outside scorer. Although he has been coming off the bench recently, expect Nachbar to play starters minutes. The Australian team could surprise, but likely won’t be able to take on Slovenia’s top-to-bottom talent. The team is led by speedster point guard, Patty Mills, who can get anywhere on the court at will; he’ll likely give Lakovic and Dragic troubles and Australia’s biggest shot at the win will come if he can get them in foul troubles. Also, Australia has a sizeable advantage in the frontcourt with David Andersen, Brad Newley, and Aleks Maric.

- - - - -

France vs. Turkey

        France has looked solid, but unspectacular so far, mainly because of their high expectations and the noted inconsistencies of Boris Diaw and Ian Mahinmi. Although forwards Nicolas Batum and Mickael Gelabale has been the stars of the team, young guards Nando De Colo and Edwin Jackson could step right in. France will need everything it has left in the tank to take down Turkey, one of three undefeated teams, along with the US and Lithuania. Turkey is led by a plethora of length featuring Ersan Ilyasova of the Milwaukee Bucks, who leads the team in scoring and rebounding, young centers Semih Erden and Omer Asik and Hedo Turkoglu. Turkoglu has not been able to find his shot, but he continues to rebound and provide a spark for the point forward position.

By Chris Andrews