Thursday night (8:00pm UK) in Prague, Serbia and Poland wrap up the group stage of EuroBasket 2022. Serbia have almost certainly locked up the top spot in Group D, while Poland, already a lock lock to join them in the playoffs, will be battling to advance as the group’s second-placed team.
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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’s action in Prague will bring into focus the playoff picture in Group D. Serbia, with four wins from four game, by an average of nearly 20 points apiece, have paced the group, and enter their group stage finale having secured the top spot. That should hardly come as a shock, as this group is led by the NBA’s two-time defending MVP and basketball savant, Nikola Jokić, who’s coasted to averages of 19.8 points, 10.5 rebounds, 5.3 assists and two steals.
Behind the Serbs is a something of a fluid situation, with Finland (led by rising NBA star Lauri Markkanen) poised to end group play with eight points (at the time of writing, they are leading the last-placed Dutch by 29 points in the third quarter). After that contest (at 4:30pm UK), third-placed Israel (on six points) will take on a Czech Republic side that’s currently just out of the playoffs but, with five points of their own, would jump back into the fray with a win.
Against this backdrop, a win for Poland (currently second, on seven points), who’ve already secured a spot in the round of 16, would lock up second place in Group D. It’s worth noting that, by merely participating in this game, the Poles will receive a point, bringing their tally to eight. In the event that Serbia are keen to keep their perfect run going, and assuming we don’t see an unfathomable shift in result between Finland and the Netherlands, based on the top two tiebreakers, total points (Finland entered this last round of fixtures +26 on Poland) and head-to-head (Finland clobbered Poland by 30 points in the second round of fixtures), the Poles would slide to third in the group, and, with an emphatic enough result from Israel, could even slide to fourth.
Ultimately, the outcome of this game rests on the level of level of commitment shown by Serbia. If, as one would expect, head coach Svetislav ‘Kari’ Pešić looks to really minimize (or eliminate completely) Jokić’s workload in this game, Poland will have an excellent shot at a vital win However, if Serbia maintains a ‘full steam ahead’ philosophy, Poland could see their playoff seeding tumble.
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