For this first meeting of the quarter-finals, two teams considered as outsiders this year face each other. On the one hand Spain, which is aiming for an 11th consecutive semi-final in a European championship, despite a smaller squad than in the past, and on the other Finland, which had no longer reached the Top 8 since 1967.
Finland’s masterpiece at the start
It was Finland who had the best start, with a particularly successful first quarter. The “Susijengi” indeed offer a master class of collective play 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 at the 15-meter buzzer!
As Sergio Scariolo feared before the match, the Spanish selection, whose first quarter was quite sluggish (8/21 on shots, 6 lost balls), was quickly confused by Finland’s “hooray basket” galloping on transition, moves the ball very fluidly on 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 external address. A choice with mixed success, since if Spain certainly won the quarter (24-22), it still conceded three additional award-winning shots and suffered the rise of Lauri Markkanen, discreet during the first quarter before find your rhythm near the circle.
At the break, there are still nine points difference (52-43), and Finland seems to be in the leader’s chair.
A jet-powered “Roja”
Except that opposite, it is always Spain, certainly less flashy than that which has hovered over Europe for the past twenty years, and it does not abdicate so easily.
Returning from the locker room, Coach Scariolo’s players shifted into fifth gear and signed their first real feat in attack in this meeting: a 17-7 in four minutes to pass in front of the scoreboard (60-59), under the impulse of the Hernangomez brothers inhabited by the desire to join the last four.
In its entirety, the third quarter is finally a highlight for the “Roja”, which wins 30 to 15 and thus enters the last quarter with a momentum favorable (73-67). During these ten minutes, Finland lost the magic of its first half collective, like its total loss of ball which explodes and approaches fifteen units…
The eternal Rudy Fernandez gets involved
For a few minutes in the last quarter, we witness a crossover between the two nations, and we even say to ourselves that Lauri Markkanen, who still signs a big performance (28 points and 11 rebounds), will save the game. his. A potential scenario quickly thrown into oblivion by Spain, and in particular by Rudy Fernandez.
The veteran of the Spanish selection chained several important actions, including two award-winning shots at crucial moments at the very end of the game.
At the end of a stunning second half (57 points scored), Spain therefore offers its eleventh consecutive semi-final in a Euro! The Finns, for their part, come out with the honors after a very good campaign, worn by an XXL Lauri Markkanen throughout the tournament. Even if they will regret their slump in the third quarter, after having had a 16-point lead in the first period…
Sergio Scariolo and his men will face, in the first semi-final of EuroBasket, the winner of the second meeting of the evening, between hosts Germany and Greece of Giannis Antetokounmpo.