The 2013 FIBA EuroBasket tournament continued Thursday with the first day of round-robin play for Group F -- the group that was made of the remaining teams from Groups C and D following the elimination of 12 teams on Monday.
The day included two upsets with host Slovenia beating Italy and Spain falling to a desperate Greek squad.
Each team participating in Thursday's action will play again Saturday and Monday before another round of eliminations takes place, leading to a knockout tournament starting next Wednesday. For now, however, round-robin play is still taking place ... so let's get to the recaps.
Greece 79, Spain 75 -- A sluggish start against Spain didn't deter the Greeks, and slowly they worked their way back into the game thanks to 19 points off 17 Spanish turnovers before pulling off a promising upset on Thursday.
Greek guard Vassilis Spanoulis scored 20 points to lead his team, which came into the second round at the bottom of Group F standings but is now in the middle of the pack.
Spain led by as many as 12 early, but it didn't take long for a physical Greece squad to push back. Despite Spain winning the points in the paint battle 16-4 early on, Greece's perimeter shooting ignited in the second quarter. That led to the Greeks taking a 41-38 lead at halftime after hitting 7-of-14 three-pointers in the first half.
After only scoring four points and having five turnovers through the first 27 minutes, Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol scored 11 straight Spanish points toward the end of the third quarter, seemingly putting Spain back in control. But Portland Trail Blazers forward Victor Claver, who was active with 11 rebounds and two blocks, fouled out with five minutes left and the game tied at 64. Suddenly the momentum swung back in Greece's favor, and it hit one key shot after another down the stretch to hold off a Spanish rally.
Rudy Fernandez and Gasol led Spain with 20 points each, and an active Claver added nine.
Slovenia 84, Italy 77 -- Slovenia knocked off the only undefeated team in either second-round group behind Goran Dragic's 22 points and six assists. Not to be forgotten for Slovenia, which also upset Spain in the first round, was a strong inside performance.
Guard Zoran Dragic led the team with 11 rebounds to go with his 15 points, and Slovenia as a team outrebounded Italy, 45-28, and as a result scored 17 second-chance points. The Slovenians also outscored Italy, 46-22, in the paint.
Zoran's brother Goran, the Phoenix Suns point guard, again wasn't terribly efficient from the field but was effective in the fourth quarter -- he was in full attack mode throughout and scored eight of his points from the foul stripe.
Italy's lone player with NBA experience, Marco Belinelli, couldn't find the bottom of the net Thursday. He was 1-for-11 before he hit a huge three with three minutes remaining that answered a triple by Slovenia that gave it a nine-point lead. The Spurs guard finished shooting 3-for-15 on the day but along with Pistons signee Luigi Datome scoring 16 points, it wasn't enough for Italy.
In a close game from the tip, Slovenia led, 45-39, at half before Italy tied it a few minutes into the second half. But Slovenia rebuilt its largest lead of 10 points two minutes later and prevented an Italian rally for the rest of the game.
Croatia 88, Finland 63 -- Finland finished 4-1 in the first round, but the tournament-ending injury to 37-year-old center Hanno Mottola apparently affected the team just as much as many thought it might. Finland came out flat, scoring just 20 points in the first half en route to the 35-point loss.
Croatia kept its starters in longer than it needed to -- likely in order to make sure it'll have a solid lead on point differential if it ends up in a tie -- but it was still backup big man Damjan Rudez who led the team with 17 points to notch his first double-digit scoring effort of the tournament. Three NBA Draft picks scored in double figures as well, with Bojan Bogdanovic notching 15 while Roko Ukic and Ante Tomic added 11 each. Damir Markota, a former member of the Milwaukee Bucks, recorded a game-high 11 rebounds in 16 minutes.
Former Portland Trail Blazers guard Petteri Koponen looked bad in Thursday's loss with just five points on seven shots and four turnovers to boot. Former Valparaiso forward Shawn Huff was Finland's only player with more than eight points, scoring 10 for a team that shot just 33 percent from the field.
Next up: These teams are all on break until Saturday as Group E takes center stage in Slovenia on Friday. Saturday's schedule begins with Croatia vs. Italy, followed by Spain vs. Finland and Greece vs. Slovenia as the nightcap.