We started with 24 but now we’re down to 12. Who is styling and profiling their way into the quarter finals and who needs some help? We rank the 12 remaing sides in Eurobasket 2013 and the 12 who are now dearly departed, or not so dearly in the case of a few.
Before getting to the rankings, we need to say a big thanks to everyone who responded on Twitter yesterday to the news of me taking over as editor. It’s much appreciated guys. Now on to the rankings…
1. Italy (5-0). Entering the second phase with a 2-0 record to start, it’s been hard to find a fault with Simone Piangiani’s team in the early going. It only gets harder from here but so far the only question is Danilo Who?
2. Spain (4-1). I narrowly pushed the back-to-back defending champions in front of the hosts based on the manner of their four victories. When they are good, they are very, very, good. That defeat to Slovenia has, if anything, served as a wake-up call.
3. Slovenia (3-2). The advantage of hosting the tournament was at its most obvious in Slovenia’s 78-69 win over favourites Spain. The raucous crowd (is there any other kind?) in Celje played its part and the only blemish to date is that narros defeat at the hands of Croatia.
4. Ukraine (4-1). Possibly a little high but Finland seem to have gotten all the dark horse love so far in this tournament. Their one loss, to France, was competitive and that’s enough to put them up this high.
5. France (4-1). So naturally this is either too high or too low depending on who you ask. The loss to Germany came against a team that caught fire for 80 minutes over the tournament’s first two days. It’s been business like from Les Bleus but we’re still waiting for that statement performance.
6. Finland (4-1). Chemistry matters so much at this level yet before every tournament there’s still the temptation to ignore a team low on star power. Finland don’t mind. Once again they have flown under the radar and are in good stead for a run at the quarter finals.
7. Croatia (4-1). How important was that comeback against Slovenia? It’s the difference between starting out phase two at 0-2 and 1-1. Don’t expect this team to find an easy path to the knockout stages, it’s not their style.
8. Greece (3-2). As Homer Simpson once said, default the two most beautiful words in the English language. Starting phase two at 0-2 means the Greeks backs are against the wall but are you writing Spanoulis out of the quarter finals?
9. Serbia (3-2). When both of your losses come in games that don’t count towards your phase two record, 3-2 looks a whole lot better than it ought to.
10. Lithuania (3-2). Group B was a mad-house. A win on Monday could have made them favoured for the last eight. Now they need to dig up.
11. Latvia (3-2). If you had asked Latvia if they’d have been ok with this grade at this stage before the tournament started they’d have first said “Who?” and then “Yup, take that.”
12. Belgium (2-3). For 20 minutes they looked like they’d beat France with room to spare. Then Les Bleus remembered results carry over and stepped on the gas.
13. Germany (2-3). Lucca Staiger was born to make Bill Raftery shout “Onions!”. Left a chance at making the next stage behind but brought plenty of excitement to the tournament.
14. Great Britain (2-3). Who thought Great Britain would go to Slovenia and not embarrass themselves? Put your hands down unless your Dan Clark’s parents. No place in the second phase but after a disappointing run in preparation for this tournament, the 2012 Olympic hosts can go home happy with their work.
15. Bosnia and Herzegovina (3-2). The one team with a winning record not to make it out of the opening round. A tough break.
16. Czech Republic (2-3). Had a real shot at making it through but Croatia stepped up big in the fourth quarter on Monday to kill them off.
17. Montenegro (2-3). Considering the controversy of their win over Macedonia I’m not entirely happy with their grade but they got the W and ensured Group B ended as madly as it began by beating Serbia.
18. FYR Macedonia (1-4). Before the tournament I thought they could be medal contenders but would need aberrant results and the breaks to go their way. They didn’t. Pero Antic is still suiting up for Atlanta next month. That’s bizarrely exciting.
19. Sweden (1-4). This isn’t a punishment for their soccer victory over my home nation on Friday night. Started with a couple of lopsided defeats, hammered Russia, lost to Turkey but stay above them because of the fright they gave Italy on Monday.
20 Georgia (1-4). Arguably the unluckiest team ranked down here, opened with a great win against Poland and pushed both Croatia and Slovenia to the wire. Tough break but nothing to be ashamed of.
21. Israel (1-4). Hey guys, did you hear Israel have a NBA player on their team? Oh, ok. To be fair, some respect was salvaged but that awful start to the tournament doomed them early.
22. Poland (1-4). Flopped badly in the opening game against Georgia, never recovered but that win over Slovenia spared them the donut.
23. Russia (1-4). See Turkey.
24. Turkey (1-4). I’m not upset. I’m just…disappointed.