The 2013 FIBA EuroBasket tournament continued Wednesday with the second part of the round-robin portion. The 12 remaining teams were re-grouped and, on Wednesday, Group E took the court as we move closer to crowning a EuroBasket champion and finding six more seeds for the 2014 FIBA World Cup.
Latvia 85, Ukraine 51 -- This matchup was expected to be a decent ball game considering both teams finished with 3-2 records after the first round of pool play. That wasn't the case, however, as Latvia took a 42-22 lead into halftime and never looked back.
Kristaps Janicenoks, a 6'5 guard and the team's leading scorer to this point in the tournament, scored 14 points and went 4-for-4 from beyond the arc to improve his 3-point shooting percentage to an amazing 63.6 percent. Backup big men Rihards Kuksiks and Martins Meiers added 13 and 11 points apiece to round out Latvia's double-digit scorers.
The Ukrainian squad has been rather disappointing this tournament and, unfortunately, the stars failed to show up again on Wednesday. Former NBA point guard Pooh Jeter and Sergii Gladyr, formerly of the Atlanta Hawks, scored just 19 combined points on 6-of-16 shooting. Slava Kravtsov, a new member of the Phoenix Suns, made just three of his 10 field goal attempts to finish seven points and six rebounds -- five on the offensive end.
Serbia 76, Belgium 69 -- The Belgians hung around in Wednesday's second game for a lot longer than anticipated. The Serbian squad was just too talented in the end, however, pulling away late to secure the victory.
Former NBA big man Nenad Krstic scored a dominant 17 points to lift his tournament average to 16.2 points per game, Stefan Markovic hit three 3s to score 15 and potential future NBAer Bogdan Bogdanovic added 12 while running the court well for a wing.
Belgium began the game with an 8-0 run and kept it close all the way to 65-63 late in the fourth quarter, but its lack of top-end talent was eventually too much to overcome. Wen-Boss Mukubu, a former UAB standout that has spent the past few years in the Belgian league, scored a team-high 16 points before fouling out. Axel Hervelle (eight points, nine boards) couldn't handle Krstic, giving more time to Christophe Beghin (12 points) and Maxime De Zeeuw (four points right before halftime). Sam Van Rossom added 12 points in 29 minutes to round out Belgium's double-digit scorers.
Lithuania 76, France 62-- Lithuania kept France at bay for almost all of 40 minutes on its way to an upset victory. France came as close as four points with just under 12 minutes remaining in the game, but Lithuania was eventually able to pull away for a comfortable victory, thanks due in large part to a fourth quarter scoreless stretch by the French that lasted well over four minutes.
Renaldas Seibutis paced the way in scoring for Lithuania, racking up 15 points on 4-for-6 shooting. Linas Kleiza, formerly of the Denver Nuggets and Toronto Raptors, had a rocky game shooting, but still finished with 11 points and a team-leading seven rebounds. Raptors 7-footer Jonas Valanciunas chipped in another 13 points on 6-for-6 from the field.
The game was largely won by Lithuania at the free throw line. Lithuania went 19-for-23 shooting at the charity stripe. Sebiutis and Kleiza combined with Mindaugas Kuzminskas to go 15-for-16. The French went 5-for-9 at the free throw line.
Next up: All six of these teams will be off on Thursday as Group F takes the court for the first time in this second portion of the round-robin tournament.