Sep 19, 2013, 8:59 PM EDT
At this point Spain, France, Lithuania and Croatia are playing for pride.
Those are your four EuroBasket semi-finalists, the Final Four of the European championship. All four of those teams advanced with quarterfinal wins in the last 48 hours. All have a shot at the title.
Those four teams have already sewn up one key prize — Europe has seven slots in the World Championships next summer (24 teams from around the globe get invites). Spain was already in as host, so the other three teams punched their card to that dance with their quarterfinals wins. They can all pack their bags for Spain.
Spain advanced to the semifinals by beating Serbia (a route that saw a crazy Marc Gasol outlet pass), France by beating Slovenia.
Thursday the two losers of those games faced off and tournament host Slovenia won handily, 92-74, behind 23 points and 9 rebounds from Zoran Dragic (that would be Goran Dragic’s brother). What that means is Slovenia is fifth place in EuroBasket and they are in for the World Championships next summer, too.
For the final two automatic slots in the World Championships it shakes out like this: Ukraine and Italy will play (they lost to semi-finalists Lithuania and Croatia) and the winner gets a world championship slot. Finally the loser of Ukraine/Italy will face Serbia in a win and you’re in game. The loser has to hope FIBA uses one of its four wildcard spots on them.
(By the way, if you’re wondering, the USA had an automatic invite as the defending Olympic champions.)
While there is some pressure in the losers bracket to win and get an invite to the dance next summer, the four teams left in the winners bracket semifinals are playing for pride — and that can lead to interesting games.
Spain has been the best team in the tournament (they are deep with guys such as Jose Calderon, Ricky Rubio, Rudy Fernandez and more), but France led by Tony Parker is one team that could upset them in a one-game tournament (which this is).
The winner of that will take on the winner of Lithuania and Croatia in the championship game. France or Spain will be healthy favorites in that game.