Euro Champs: upsets

MADRID, Sept 6, 2007 - The European basketball championships advance to the qualifying-round on Friday with the favourites slightly hampered in the points after suffering surprise losses on Wednesday.
Croatia beat world champions Spain (85-84), Russia crushed defending European champions Greece (61-53), Slovenia trounced France (67-66) while Lithuania defeated Germany (84-80).
With the defeat of the strongest teams on the same night the tournament is shaping up to be one of the most competitive European basketball championships in history whose outcome remains uncertain.
The top three teams from each group advance to two six-team qualifying-round groups.
And as the top four teams from each group - taking into account results from the preliminary rounds - will advance to the quarterfinals, the four basketball giants enter into the next phase with a slight handicap.
Lithuania, Slovenia, Russia and Croatia meanwhile enter the qualifying-round already with four points each, which gives them a foot in the door of the quarterfinals.
This is especially advantageous for Russia and Croatia who are in Group E with Spain and Greece but also with minnows Portugal and Israel.
Group F, which joins together Lithuania, Germany, Turkey, Slovenia, France, with Tony Parker, and Italy, appears much more challenging.
Aside making it to the quarterfinals the goal of all the teams is to achieve the best possible classification to avoid the stronger teams of the opposing group.
According to the rules the fourth-placed team in each group will face the top-ranked squad in the opposing group.
The big surprise of the qualifying-round is that Spain and Greece will clash on Friday in a rematch of the last world championship.
It was inevitable that the two sides would meet but this was expected to happen later on in the tournament.
Spain’s loss to Croatia was its first defeat in 28 matches and the team is seen as the favourite against a Greek team that has failed to live up to its reputation and appeared disoriented by the Russian squad.
In Group F Germany, with Dirk Nowitzki, will face France on Saturday in a match that will determine the top of the classification in that group.
The match will pit Nowitzki, who has been chosen as the NBA’s MVP for leading the Dallas Mavericks to one of the best regular seasons in league history, against France’s Parker who was chosen as the NBA finals MVP after the Spurs swept the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Parker is the first European-born player to receive the NBA finals MVP.
France and Germany will struggle to not trail Lithuania, the most impressive side since the start of the tournament thanks in large part to the return of point guard Sarunas Jasikevicius to the national team.
The final of the European basketball championships will be held in Madrid on September 16.

If Slovenia “trounced” France by one point, I wonder what they would have written if the margin had been two points. :smiley: