The second round of the 2013 FIBA EuroBasket tournament will kick off Wednesday morning with a rather slight slate of just three games. Slovenia had been hosting 12 games per day early in the tournament, but, with half of the team's eliminated after Monday's contests, the second part of the round-robin portion will allow for a little less clutter.
Two of the tournament's top teams will face off in Wednesday's featured game between France and Lithuania, though the matchups of Latvia vs. Ukraine and Belgium vs. Serbia also could provide interesting outcomes. All three of Wednesday's games feature Group E participants; Group F will begin play on Thursday.
France vs. Lithuania is a game basketball fans should clear their schedule for considering it features two of the top teams in Europe.
San Antonio Spurs MVP candidate Tony Parker captains a solid 4-1 French squad that has also been given good contributions from fellow NBA experienced players in Mickael Gelabale, Boris Diaw, Nicolas Batum, Alexis Ajinca, Nando de Colo and Johan Petro. It's been very hard to key in on any of the aforementioned players considering even Ajinca -- an NBA washout after just a couple of seasons -- has looked like a star in a couple games this tournament.
Lithuania doesn't have quite as many current recognizable NBA players on their roster, but they made a solid run through the first round of the tournament with a 3-2 record. Swingman Mantas Kalnietis is leading his squad with 12.8 points, but his shot failed to fall in Monday's loss to Bosnia as he went just 1-for-9 from beyond the arc in the six-point defeat. Lithuania does have some recognizable talent to the American basketball fans, too -- Linas Kleiza, Jonas Valanciunas and Donatas Motiejunas -- though they've all had their struggles thus far and aren't currently averaging NBA-esque numbers.
The players to watch in Wednesday's other games include the following:
- Sergii Gladyr (newly signed player for the Atlanta Hawks) and former NBA journeyman guard Pooh Jeter have both played well for the Urkainian team thus far.
- Latvian guard Kristaps Janicenoks considering he's leading his squad with 14.2 points per game and shooting better than 55 percent from beyond the arc.
- Former NBA big man Nenad Krstic and Minnesota Timberwolves draftee Nemanja Bjelica are both playing well for Serbia.
- And last, but not least, Belgium's surprising entrance in the second round was led by 6'9 forward Axel Hervelle, a second-round pick of the Denver Nuggets pick in 2005 that has instead decided to spend his career abroad.
Wednesday's full schedule is included below, converted to Eastern Time for your convenience:
8:30 a.m. - Latvia (3-2) vs. Ukraine (4-1)
11:45 a.m. - Belgium (2-3) vs. Serbia (3-2)
3 p.m. - Lithuania (3-2) vs. France (4-1)