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Spain and Croatia clash for Group C crown, as Russia face the Porzingis test
CLUJ-NAPOCA (FIBA EuroBasket 2017) - After breezing past their competition in the first three games at the FIBA EuroBasket 2017, defending champions Spain reset to face their most serious challenge in Group C on Tuesday in the also-undefeated Croatia.
Sharing the top spot in the standings with identical 3-0 records and already qualified for the Final Phase, the teams will play it out for the group crown in Cluj-Napoca, with the winner guaranteed of pole position ahead of the Round of 16.
Sergio Scariolo and his side have not had a close game in the tournament yet and achieved their latest blowout win against tournament hosts Romania, even without the help of Pau Gasol and Alex Abrines, who were out of maintenance with reasons of precautionary nature.
"We wanted to link a couple of days of rest for his recuperation. After all, he is 37. He doesn't look like it, but he is," the playcaller said about Gasol, also clarifying that the injury Abrines is carrying is only a minor knock.
While not as clinical as Spain, Croatia have also enjoyed dominant performances in the Group Phase, with the last game against Montenegro being an exception after Aleksandar Petrovic's side nearly wasted a 15-point lead.
Another marquee matchup of Tuesday's action will take place in Istanbul, where the already-qualified Group D leaders Russia will attempt to stop Kristaps Porzingis and Latvia, who can also punch their ticket with a win.
The biggest burden in the task will fall on the broad shoulders of Timofey Mozgov, who could have some trouble chasing the Latvian unicorn, who is averaging 24.3 points per game.
I love basketball— Kristaps Porzingis (@kporzee) September 4, 2017
After registering big scoring games against Turkey and Serbia, Aleksei Shved was once again the man of the hour in Russia's last game against Belgium, but picked up a knock, which, coach Sergey Bazarevich admitted, raises some question marks about his availability.
Meanwhile, Serbia will play against Great Britain, with the home team Turkey attempting to bounce back against a tough-to-beat Belgian Lions, who have lost two on the bounce after winning the tournament-opener.
Later in the day, overtime kings Finland, with a 2-1 record, will take on Greece, who need a win to avoid finding themselves between a rock and a hard place after picking up two losses in a row in Group A.
In Group B, Lithuania will hope to keep their rhythm against underdogs Ukraine, who showed their teeth by upsetting Georgia in the last game, Italy and Germany will be hoping for bounce-back wins, while hosts Israel will be looking for another scalp when they meet Georgia.