Here’s What to Know About EuroBasket
We answer your questions about the EuroBasket tournament, which concludes this weekend in Berlin.
Wait, have Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nikola Jokic actually been playing competitive basketball the past two weeks?
Yes, and other big names like Luka Doncic and Rudy Gobert have also been involved in EuroBasket.
What exactly is EuroBasket?
The championship of Europe for men’s national teams, normally held every two years, although this year’s is the first since 2017 because of the pandemic. This year’s games have been played in the Czech Republic, Georgia, Germany and Italy.
Is it a big deal?
Some American fans don’t know much about it, but in European basketball circles, it is a big deal. It is considered one of the three most important international tournaments, along with the Olympics and the World Cup, and regularly attracts most of Europe’s best players.
EuroBasket is a big enough deal that Jokic, the reigning winner of the N.B.A.’s Most Valuable Player Award, who might have been excused for skipping an off-season tournament, played for his native Serbia. It is a big enough deal that Antetokounmpo of Greece also played — and took it seriously enough that he was ejected from his quarterfinal after committing two unsportsmanlike conduct fouls.
Where does the competition stand?
Germany, Spain, France and Poland have advanced to the final four in Berlin this weekend. ESPN+ is streaming the games in the U.S.; the semifinals are at 1:05 and 4:20 p.m. Eastern on Friday and the final at 4:20 p.m. on Sunday.
Is there a women’s EuroBasket?
Yes. The next one is in 2023 in Slovenia and Israel; Serbia is the defending champion. Because it is played in June, it does not generally attract W.N.B.A. players, although top European-based players and some American collegians compete.
How have the big names been doing in the men’s event?
Gobert had 19 points and 13 rebounds in France’s overtime victory over Italy in the quarterfinals and is averaging 14.7 points, just behind the 15.0 from his teammate Evan Fournier of the Knicks.
But while Gobert and France play on, three of the biggest names have been eliminated in what has been an unpredictable event so far.
Doncic was huge for Slovenia. In a game against France he scored 47 on 15 of 23 shooting and also had 36- and 35-point games, for three of the top five scoring performances in the tournament. But he was just 5 of 15 as Slovenia was shocked by Poland in the quarterfinals despite rallying from a 23-point deficit.
“We didn’t go into the game like we wanted to,” Doncic told reporters. “The energy wasn’t there, but then we came back. But Poland was still fighting, so congrats to Poland.”France will meet Poland in a semifinal.
Antetokounmpo averaged a tournament-high 29.3 points per game before Greece was eliminated in the quarterfinals by Germany after his ejection. Jokic, whose Serbian team was eliminated in the round of 16 by Italy, is the fifth leading scorer at 21.7 points a game.
Any less familiar names?
Center Willy Hernangómez, of the New Orleans Pelicans, who has never averaged 10 points a game with three N.B.A. teams, is playing like a dominant big man in this competition, averaging 17.9 points a game for Spain. He was 10-13 from the floor in a quarterfinal win over Finland, which put Spain in an 11th straight Eurobasket semifinal, dating to 1999.
In the semifinals, Spain will face host Germany, which has advanced without really having a marquee player. Dennis Schröder, the point guard who is a free agent after most recently playing with the Rockets, has impressed, ranking seventh in points per game and sixth in assists per game.
Poland has made it to the semis without a current N.B.A. player on its roster or a leading scorer in the tournament. Forward Mateusz Ponitka, the captain, who plays for Reggio Emilia in Italy, had 26 points as part of a triple-double in the quarterfinal win. “Here we are: We are Cinderella right now,” the 28-year-old Ponitka told reporters, saying it was the first triple-double of his career.
The power forward Lauri Markkanen of Finland, which punched above its weight to make the quarterfinals, also opened eyes. He had 43 points in an upset of Croatia, a team with Dario Saric and Bojan Bogdanovic, in the round of 16. That could be good news for the Utah Jazz, who acquired Markkanen from the Cavaliers two weeks ago.
Who’s going to win?
It’s a tough call among three of the remaining four teams, with Poland the only real long shot. France is an 8½-point favorite to end Poland’s run in the first semi, while Germany is a 3½-point favorite over world champion Spain, mostly because of the home court advantage.