Thursday night (8:00pm UK) in Milan, Great Britain and Italy wrap up the group stage of EuroBasket 2022. Italy are looking to cement a playoff spot out of Group C, while Great Britain are hoping to end what’s been a very tough tournament on a positive note.
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On Thursday night in host cities across Europe, group play in Eurobasket 2022 draws to a close. By night’s end, the identities and seeds of all 16 playoff participants (four apiece from four, six-team groups) will be known. Entering play on Thursday, matters had been been settled in two of four groups. Spain has already topped Group A with 9 points (each win is worth two points, and each loss is worth one), moving on to the playoffs with Turkey, Montenegro and Belgium. Meanwhile, in Group B, NBA superstar Luka Dončić powered Slovenia to the top spot. They’ll be joined in the round of 16 by Germany, France and Lithuania.
Thursday night’s action in Milan will bring into focus a muddled playoff picture in Group C. Greece, led by two-time NBA MVP and all-around destroyer Giannis Antetokounmpo, have won four of four and already clinched the group’s top spot. Though the four-team playoff field from Group C is already set, behind the Greeks is something of a logjam, with Ukraine on seven points, and Italy and Croatia on six points apiece.
That would still leave the question of seedings. Ukraine and Croatia will square off on Thursday, with Ukraine looking to lock up the number two spot with a win. However, should the Croatians emerge victorious (and with this with a sufficiently emphatic performance), they could vault themselves into that #2 spot. That is, of course, assuming that the side currently ahead of them, Italy, doesn’t do the same.
The Italians, who’ve sadly lost star and longtime NBA player Danilo Gallinari to a knee injury have had an interest in run in this tournament. Coming in on the heels of FIBA World Cup qualifying wins over Ukraine and Georgia, Italy opened EuroBasket 22 with a comfortable win over Estonia. They then proceeded to lose their next two to Greece and Ukraine – though, two losses by a combined 13 points, including a four-point loss to a not-yet-clinched-anything Greece are nothing to be ashamed of. The Italians then rebounded back with a comeback victory over Croatia on Tuesday night, putting them, for now, in third place in the group. Italy can secure a third place and a spot in the playoffs with a comfortable win on Thursday. And, in the event of a Ukraine loss at the hands of Croatia, the door would be open for the Italians, with a comfortable enough win, to jump into second place. Enviably, to do so, they’ll only need to manage a comfortable win over Great Britain.
For Great Britain, there’s really no two ways about it: this tournament (most of the past year, actually) has been rough sledding. It’s worth remembering that Great Britain did beat Germany twice, as well as France and Montenegro in qualifying for this tournament… in February 2021. It’s also worth noting that their next time out after that qualifying campaign, they shocked Greece in a World Cup qualifier. That was in November 2021.
Great Britain have since lost nine straight, only one by fewer than 14 points. In this tournament, they’ve lost four of four, all by at least 16 points, and two by at least 28. There’s little doubt that coach Nathan Reiking’s side will battle, but there’s little to suggest that Great Britain is poised to keep a contest against a motivated Italy side particularly close, let alone secure a victory. Frankly, keeping this game competitive into the fourth quarter and get strong performances from Luke Nelson and veteran Myles Hesson would make for a reasonably successful group stage finale.
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