Slovenia, the defending champion, sensationally fell out of the quarterfinals of the European Basketball Championships after a false start and catching up.
The team around NBA star Luka Doncic lost in Berlin 87:90 (39:58) to a blatant outsider Poland. For the first time since 2009, the European champions failed so early as Russia caught on.
That means the third heavyweight will not be in the semifinals after Serbia with NBA MVP Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets) and Greece’s Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks) in Slovenia with Doncic (Dallas Mavericks).
The Slovenians disappointed all the way until the break. Strongly playing Poland, which was overtaken by Finland (59:89) and Serbia (69:96) in the qualifying round, led at times by 23 points. Then the favorites got up and turned the game around in the third quarter (24:6), but the Poles, around their best shooter Mateusz Ponitka (26 points), fought back. Doncic (14 points) had to leave the court with three minutes left after the fifth foul.
On Friday (5:15 p.m.) Poland will face France, who defeated Italy in the quarterfinals after overtime 93:85 (77:77, 38:31). The winner will face Germany or world champion Spain in the final on Sunday (20.30/both MagentaSport).
A bitter defeat for Italy
Italy failed miserably after a surprise against gold contenders Serbia. Former Berliner Simone Fontecchio, a new signing from the NBA’s Utah Jazz, was the best Italian shooter along with Marco Spissu (21 points each), but missed his chance in the final stages of regulation with two missed free throws. the second missed throw decides. In overtime, the French team around top scorer Thomas Heurtel (20 points) made it to the semi-finals.
On Sunday, the Italians unexpectedly knocked out the reserve European champion, Serbian NBA MVP Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets) in the round of 16 (94:86).
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