By Yarone Arbel
The start of quarter-final action taught us that Russia is far from a one man team and that free-throw shooting is critical in crunch situations.
It’s the good news and the bad news from day ten of EuroBasket 2007.
The Good News
Rebounds Didn't Make a Difference- Yesterday we mentioned that in all three games the teams who had the rebound edge also won the game. In the first quarter-final we had a
different story. France out-rebounded Russia 37-25, a major difference, and pulled down 14 offensive boards, which was enough to stay in the game but in the end it was not enough to advance.
|As clutch as he has been professionally Tony Parker has missed some opportunities at EuroBasket.|
Kirlilenko plus- For years the Russian team was considered a "lighter version" of Germany in the sense that they had one great player who's an NBA star while the rest aren't even close to him. In their win over France Russia disproved this as Andrei Kirilenko wasn't at his best, at least on the offensive side, and they still managed to win. Keep in mind that Kirilenko fouled out with 3:25 to play and the game tied, so Russia won this game in the last minutes without his help on either end, which says a lot about what a great team they can be.
Timing on the Line- Both France and Russia had very low percentages from the free throw line, but it all comes down to timing. Russia entered the last quarter having hit just three out of 11 free throws, but was perfect in the last 24 seconds, hitting all six of their freebies. France entered the last quarter having made six out of ten, but when the game was on the line they missed almost everything. Only three out of their last ten free throws went in for the French side. Overall free-throw percentage is important but not as important as hitting from the charity stripe with the game on the line.
The Bad News
Parker falls again- Tony Parker might be the NBA Finals MVP and one of the best point guards in the "best league in the world" as they like to call it, but in EuroBasket he has struggled to mirror that professional success. Parker has always been maybe the biggest part of his team’s success at the event but he has also failed to come up with big shots in key situations. In both 2003 and 2005 missed free-throws and turnovers had Parker headed back to France before he would have liked and it happened again this year. Parker went to the line with his team down by two points with seven seconds on the clock. He scored the first but missed the second, which allowed Russia to take a three point lead and eventually win the game.
Better from the floor than the line- It's not common to see a team with a better field goal percentage than free throws percentage, but last night it happened twice. Russia was accurate from the field, shooting 56% while only hitting 53% of their free-throws. France, meanwhile, connected on 47% of their field goals versus 45% of their free throws. It’s a statistical anomaly that is not uncommon in big games, especially ones between teams that that shoot less than 70% from the free-throw line.