Serbia and Slovenia won the top seed at the 2022 European Basketball Championship, but the elimination phase awaits

EuroBasket 2022 in full swing and both participants from Denver Nuggets It survived the first cuts.

Serbia destroyed anyone who stood in their way and did so beyond the excellent play of Nikola Jokic in back-to-back NBA MVP as well as a roster full of high-IQ players who fit together very well.

Slovenia, in the tougher second group, had a tough start, but found a foothold in time to emerge as the top seed. While their path to the championship portion of the EuroBasket was nowhere near as easy as Serbia, they are now stronger in battle and stronger in the face of adversity. This could give Vlatko Kankar, Luka Doncic and the rest of the Slovenian players an advantage that Serbia lacks after Serbia managed to get past the first five games in a very simple way.

Before getting into what’s to come in the tournament portion of the EuroBasket, let’s take a moment to take a look at how the group stage plays for Jokic and Serbia as well as Kankar and Slovenia.

Group stage closing

As mentioned above, the biggest difference between Serbia and Slovenia was the strength of the group they played in, but that didn’t stop the two teams from achieving their goal of being the top seed in their group.

Both teams relied heavily on their superstar Doncic and Jokic and now have a chance to face each other during the tournament, but more on that later. For now, let’s take a look at the dominance of each country in its group.

Serbia

Having Serbia in Group D along with the Czech Republic, Finland, Israel, the Netherlands and Poland was unfair. Serbia went 5-0 and none of their five group matches were a real test.

Yes, Israel pushed the Serbs out and lost by just 11 points, the closest match for Serbia in multiplayer, but calling it a real challenge would be a mistake. Israel was this close because Serbia was letting them keep up. If Serbia had entered that match the way they did the other four, winning would have been more comfortable.

Ultimately, Serbia defeated their five opponents with an average of 21.6 points without having to get into third gear or higher, and they went 5-0 perfectly in their five matches in Prague. Jokic in particular looked as if he was playing during the NBA All-Star Weekend – not one of the most famous international tournaments in the world – and credit for allowing Jokic not to put much effort goes to the rest of Serbia’s roster who played very well and are fully stocked with players High impact.

Djokic plays only 24.3 minutes per match over five matches for Serbia in the group stage of the EuroBasket. Despite the few minutes, he averaged 19.6 points, 9.4 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game. He flips the ball twice a game, but steals an average of 1.8 times as well. While these numbers certainly jump off the page, the most ridiculous part of Jokic’s statistical output so far is his splits in the shot. He shoots 68.4% from the field, 40% from three points, and 88.9% from the foul streak.

Let’s be honest. Team play means next to nothing for Jokic and Serbia. The real games come next when the elimination phase begins.

Slovenia

Slovenia only had one loss during its five matches in multiplayer, but its 4-1 record doesn’t accurately represent how difficult their path has been. Four of their five matches were decided by single numbers including a 93-97 loss to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

However, the second group included Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, France, Germany, Hungary and Lithuania. Most of them are storied basketball nations. Bosnia and Herzegovina has Portland Trail Blazers Josef Nurkic Centre. France is characterized by Minnesota Timberwolves Stars Rudi Gobert and Evan Fournier from New York Knicks. Germany has Daniel Theis, Dennis Schroeder and Franz Wagner who all have NBA experience. Lithuania is built around NBA players Domantas Sabonis and Jonas Valanciunas as well as Mindogas Kusminskas, who once played in the NBA.

This group is much more difficult than what Serbia had to face.

However, Slovenia took a 4-1 lead thanks to the amazing play of Doncic, who put Slovenia on the back and led to their exit from the group stage. Doncic averages 26.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game including his masterpiece 47 points against France.

In addition to Doncic’s cool, he’s helped out both Zoran and Goran Dragic as well as Cancar’s own Nuggets, who have had a solid EuroBasket performance thus far. Kankar averages 10.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists while playing 27.9 minutes per game including 22 outing points. Overall, Cancar scored 44.7% from a cool field, but was 6-16 from a three-point range and had only two spins in five games while playing solid defense; Most of the skills Nuggets need from him.

It wasn’t easy, but Slovenia still had the top seed in Group B and now it will turn its attention to the EuroBasket elimination stage.

The next elimination stage

Now that the EuroBasket 2022 knockout phase has reached, it means that the tournament will start in Berlin, Germany where the last 16 teams will meet to battle for the gold medal. Here’s what the arc looks like as the group stage ends.

The top four seeded will be Spain from Group A, Slovenia from Group B, Greece from Group C and Serbia from Group D, which are undoubtedly the four most talented and feared teams out of the remaining 16 nations in the European Basketball Championship. The No. 1 seeders from Group A and C will be on the left side of the bracket while No. 1 seeders from Group B and D — Slovenia and Serbia respectively — will be on the right side of the bracket.

This establishes a sprint to the finals for both Serbia and Slovenia. If they both manage to make their way to the semi-finals, they will face each other to earn the right to go to the finals to compete for the gold medal in a battle between friends and colleagues in Kancar and Jokic.

Let’s take a closer look at the path to the finals for Serbia and Slovenia as well as the teams on the other side of the arc.

Serbia

Serbia will start their final push against Italy in the first round of the knockout stage on Sunday in Berlin. Italy, after losing Danilo Gallinari to a ruptured ACL, has become significantly less threatening. Serbia shouldn’t have much of a problem skipping the Italians, but next time it will be the winner between Turkey and France with the French being the favorites to advance to the next round.

If France really wins, it will put both Jokic and Joubert in familiar territory – facing each other. When considering that both have been in the same division in the NBA since they were drafted, it becomes clear how much they know each other’s game. This should lead to a fun fight to fend off elimination.

However, Turkey could upset France and make their way to the quarter-finals against Serbia. Turkey includes Alperin Sengon, Furkan Korkmaz and former Knicks goalkeeper Shane Larkin on their roster and they have proven to be a strong opponent.

If Serbia can then beat France or Turkey, it will open the door to the possibility of facing Slovenia, the European basketball champion, in the semi-finals before reaching its goal in the European Basketball Cup finals.

Slovenia

Slovenia’s five-year defense of the European Basketball Championship will begin on Saturday against underdog Belgium in a match that Slovenia should easily win.

Slovenia’s road to the semi-finals of a possible confrontation with Serbia is not fraught with strong opponents and difficult challenges. If Slovenia beats Belgium as it should, its next opponent will be either Poland or a Cinderella story in Ukraine.

Poland was just demolished by Serbia with a 30-point loss. Their level of talent and tenacity is nowhere near that of Slovenia. Ukraine has Svi Mykhailiuk and Alex Len leading the way which could make life difficult for Slovenia, but on paper Slovenia is the better team.

If Slovenia can get past these two matches, it is very likely that they will see the next Jokic and Serbia on a possible trip to the finals in a highly anticipated fight between Doncic and Jokic.

The other side of the arc

With one side of the arc defined, let’s take a closer look at the other.

The top two are Greece led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, Spain led by Guancho, Willy Hernangomes and Osman Garuba as well as former Nuggets player Rudy Fernandez. Both are head and shoulders above almost everyone else this side of the arc.

However, both Lithuania and Germany can be a force to be reckoned with, and Germany hosts the tournament in Berlin effectively making them a home team in every game they play. In addition, Croatia has a distinguished roster led by Bojan Bogdanovic of the Utah Jazz.

Among the first-round matches in this side of the category, only one appears to be particularly competitive: Spain vs. Lithuania. Lithuania had a shocking start to team play, but bounced back well to avoid elimination. Now, with two NBA players on their roster, they have the means to upset Spain in Berlin and move into the second round.

Aside from that game, everything else seems rather simple to predict. Greece should have little or no problem with the Czech Republic, Germany should overtake Montenegro, and Croatia have no loss to Finland.

From there, the games can become a lot of fun. Greece vs. Germany will be a far cry from a walk in Antetokounmpo Park as Croatia prepares for who will win between Spain and Lithuania.

In the end, it seems more likely that Greece will face Spain in the semi-finals for a chance to compete for gold and displace Slovenia. The Greeks are likely to come out with a semi-final win over Spain, which leads them to the finals where they will likely face one of Serbia or Slovenia for the 2022 European Basketball Champions title.

Saturday morning will be the start of the tournament and it should be good.