Each of the two Eurobasket 2022 semifinals features a pre-tournament favourite and an underdog on an exceptional run. In the second of Friday’s matchups (7:30pm UK) in Berlin, a new-look Spanish power takes on a Germany side laden with NBA talent that’s risen to the occasion.
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This is a matchup that’s positively loaded with NBA-caliber talent. The Spanish, for the first time recent memory without a Gasol or Ricky Rubio, are led by Willy and Juan (‘Juancho’) Hernangómez, of (respectively) the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans and Toronto Raptors. Also featuring in the backcourt is Rudy Fernández, who, before his current decade-long run with Real Madrid, spent half a decade in ‘the Association’. Germany, meanwhile, feature a pair of NBA veterans in big man Daniel Theis and point guard Dennis Schröder, as well as rising star Franz Wagner of the Orlando Magic.
Spain won four of its five games in Group A, for nine points. This was good enough to top the group by a single point, with Turkley, Montenegro and Belgium all finishing with eight points. Germany, meanwhile, also racked up nine points in group play. However, over those five group games, the Germans score one point less than Slovenia. That, unfortunately, is the first tiebreaker. As a result, Germany finished second in Group B, a point ahead of fellow semifinalists France. The subsequent knockout stages have been a thrill ride for both sides.
In the round of 16, the Spanish needed a fourth quarter comeback against Lithuania to force overtime. In that extra frame, thanks to the last of naturalised American Lorenzo Brown’s 28 points and eight assists and Willy Hernangómez’s 21 points and eight rebounds, they pulled out a 102-94 win. It was smoother sailing (marginally) in the quarterfinals against Finland, where, despite 28 points and 11 rebounds from new Utah Jazz star Lauri Markkanen and an 11-point Finland lead after one quarter, Spain dominated the second half, and ultimately secured to a 100-90 win.
Germany, meanwhile, met Montenegro in the round of 16. At halftime the game looked like a done deal, as Germany led by a 48-25 score. Though they obviously wound up with the win, the Germans came out terribly flat in the second half, and ultimately had to hold on for a six-point win, 85-79. In the quarters against heavily favoured Greece, who were led by universal megastar Giannis Antetokounmpo, put forth the performance of the tournament, withstanding 31 points, seven rebounds and eight assists from the two-time NBA MVP and, thanks to 22 points and eight assists from Schröder and 19 points from Wagner, cruised to a 107-96 win.
The oddsmakers have the Spanish as between 4.5- and 5.5-point favourites in this game. On balance, given Spain’s talent, experience, historical pedigree and pre-tournament standing, that’s totally fair. At the same time, it’s extremely difficult to make a case against this German team, super-talented in its own right, playing as well as it is right now.
Given the incredible amount of offensive talent on the floor, the most reasonable prediction for this game is that these side combine to score at least 168 points.