For this first quarterfinal match, two teams considered as outsiders this year will face each other. On the one hand, Spain, which is aiming for its 11th consecutive semifinal in a European championship, despite having a smaller squad than in the past, and on the other, Finland, which has not reached the Top 8 since 1967.
Finland’s masterpiece at the beginning
It was Finland that got off to the best start, with a particularly successful first quarter. The “Susijengi” offer in fact a master class of collective game from the first act, with 30 points scored in ten minutes (19 for Spain), with eleven shots scored for ten assists, and ten different players who scored at least once. They even plant a basket on the 50-foot speaker!
As Sergio Scariolo feared before the game, the Spanish team, whose first quarter was rather weak (8/21 shots, 6 turnovers), quickly got lost with Finland’s “hooray canasta” galloping in transition, moving the ball very fluidity in the half-court and thus offers several open shots behind the arc (4/6).
The Spanish coach, in search of solutions, then bets on a zone defense when the second quarter begins, to stop the Finnish outside direction. A choice with uneven success, since although Spain certainly won the quarter (24-22), they still conceded three additional winning shots and suffered the rise of Lauri Markkanen, discreet during the first quarter before finding his rhythm near the circle.
At the break, there are still nine points difference (52-43), and Finland seems to be in the lead.
A jet-powered “Red”
Except that the other way around, it is always Spain, certainly less conspicuous than the one that has hung over Europe for the last twenty years, and it does not abdicate so easily.
On the way back from the locker room, coach Scariolo’s players went into fifth gear and signed their first authentic feat in attack in this match: a 17-7 in four minutes to go ahead of the scoreboard (60-59), under the impetus of The Hernangómez brothers are inhabited by the desire to join the last four.
As a whole, the third quarter is finally a highlight for the “Red”, which wins 30 to 15 and thus reaches the last quarter with a impulse favorable (73-67). During these ten minutes, Finland lost the magic of their first collective time, such as their total loss of the ball that explodes and approaches fifteen units…
The eternal Rudy Fernández gets involved
For a few minutes in the last quarter we witnessed a clash between the two nations, and we even told ourselves that Lauri Markkanen, who continues to put in a great performance (28 points and 11 rebounds), will save his game. A potential scenario quickly thrown into oblivion by Spain, and in particular by Rudy Fernández.
The veteran of the Spanish team chained several important actions, including two winning shots in crucial moments at the end of the game.
At the end of an impressive second half (57 points scored), Spain offers its eleventh consecutive semifinal at a Euro! The Finns, meanwhile, come out with the honors after a very good campaign, wearing a Lauri Markkanen XXL throughout the tournament. Even if they regret their losing streak in the third quarter, after having a 16-point lead in the first half…
Sergio Scariolo and his team will face, in the first semifinal of the EuroBasket, the winner of the second match of the night, between the host Germany and Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Greece.
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