Spain was able to win its third title over the last four championships at the 2015 Men’s EuroBasket. The 24 team tournament consisted of four groups of six teams where the top four advanced to the round of 16 where it became a single elimination tournament. The two teams which reached the final qualified to the Olympics. EuroBasket 2015 was held in five cities across Europe, namely in Croatia, France, Germany and Latvia from September 5th to September 20th 2015.
Defending champion France led Group A by going undefeated though it wasn’t easy at times as they needed overtime to defeat Finland 97-87 in their first match while Poland made it hard as France only won the match 69-66. One of the surprises of the tournament was Russia’s failure to advance to the round of 16 as they lost four closely contested matches before defeating Bosnia and Herzegovina on the final match.
Group B was considered to be the group of death, but it was Serbia that was triumphant as they went undefeated. There best win was a 80-70 win over Spain and while they needed a last second basket to defeat Germany 68-66 they only increased their victory margin and by the end of the group stage they were considered one of the favourites to win. Germany was the odd team out as an overtime loss to Italy and a failed 76-77 comeback against Spain left them on the outside.
Greece was the star of Group C as a strong fourth quarter against Croatia gave them a 72-70 win as they went undefeated in the group, though they to put the Netherlands away winning by a narrow score of 68-65. Georgia was able to squeeze into the round of 16 as they created one of the largest upsets in the tournament to defeat Croatia 71-58.
While Lithuania may have won Group D they were by far the least impressive group winner. Outside of their 68-49 win over Latvia they required overtime to defeat the Czech Republic 85-81, won by a basket against Ukraine and Estonia and actually were upset 76-74 against Belgium. In a group that turned out to be closely contested it was Latvia, Czech Republic and Belgium that joined Lithuania to the round of 16.
The round of 16 had its mostly expected results as France, Spain, Greece and Italy all advance over Turkey, Poland, Belgium and Israel respectively. Serbia and Lithuania required the fourth quarter to finally put Finland (94-81) and Georgia (85-81) respectively away. Latvia played a strong game overall to upset Slovenia 73-66 while the biggest upset of the round went to the Czech Republic as they easily defeated Croatia 80-59.
While Latvia had a strong start against France in the quarterfinals France was soon able to take over the match for a 84-70 win. Serbia used its strong fourth quarter to put the Czech Republic away to win the match 89-75. Lithuania required overtime against Italy, but proved to be too powerful as the cruised through overtime 16-6 to win 95-85. The match of the round was between Spain and Greece. When it looked as if Spain was about to take control of the match in the second quarter Greece was able to even things back in the third. Spain was able to take a slight lead in the fourth and as hard as Greece tried they were unable to complete the comeback as Spain narrowly won 73-71.
With an Olympic berth and spot in the finals on the line the semifinals had quite the drama. The first semi-final between France and Spain was close up until half-time. In the third quarter France was able to push and maintain a lead as they went up 56-48 going into the final quarter. In the fourth Spain not only caught up, but took the lead with about 2 minutes remaining. France however scored a three pointer to tie things up and force overtime. In overtime Spain took the lead, but France was awarded three free throws which could have tied the match. They however missed all three shot attempts as Spain went to win the match and qualify to the Olympics with a score of 80-75.
The second semi-final between Serbia and Lithuania was also a close match. Lithuania took a lead in the first quarter and stretched it into double digits in the second, but Serbia responded late into the second to close the gap to 35-34 at half-time. Serbia was briefly able to take the lead in the third, but Lithuania was able to reverse the trend and regained the lead going into the fourth. The fourth had Serbia attempting to comeback, coming as close as 1 point from tying, but Lithuania was able to respond every time and booked its spot to the final and the Olympics with a score of 67-64.
In the final Spain had a great start and quickly built up a 19-8 lead by the end of the first quarter. Lithuania was able to recover a bit in the second, but another big push by Spain in the third essentially sealed the championship as Spain would go on to win 80-63. France was able to take the bronze medal by defeating Serbia 81-68.
All is not over for the other European teams as teams placed 3rd through 7th will get a second opportunity to qualify at the final Olympic qualification tournaments to be held just before the Olympics begin. Specifically it means France, Serbia, Greece, Italy and the Czech Republic will all get another chance to grab one of the final three remaining spots.
- Czech Republic
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- EuroBasket2015. EuroBasket 2015 Schedule and Results. Access on September 20 2015.