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09/09/2017
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Sunday Preview: Can the hosts upset the champs? Croatia and Russia to slug it out

25 Kenan Sipahi (TUR), 6 Cedi Osman (TUR)
25 Kenan Sipahi (TUR) - 6 Cedi Osman (TUR) - Latvia v Turkey, 2017 FIBA EuroBasket Final Round, Istanbul - Fenerbahce Arena(TUR), Group Phase, 7 September 2017

ISTANBUL (FIBA EuroBasket 2017) - There will be more tension as the knockout action continues during the second half of the Round of 16 on Sunday. 

Headlining the games, hosts Turkey face a huge challenge against defending champions Spain, who have won 11 straight games in the tournament dating back to the Group Phase in 2015. 

In perhaps the day's showpiece game, Croatia and Russia clash in what shapes as an even contest between two highly-rated teams. 

Latvia v Montenegro (11:30 CET/12:30 local time)

Tournament form - Latvia: LWWWW - Montenegro: LWLWW 

Key Match-up: Kristaps Porzingis v Nikola Vucevic. Porzingis might very well be the most talented player in the tournament and he showed why during an utterly dominant Group Phase.

If Vucevic, a physical and gritty center, can limit Porzingis and also do some damage offensively - namely  by getting Porzingis into foul trouble - then Montenegro will fancy their chances.

Breakdown: It looms as a tough game to predict with both teams relatively even across the board but much rests on Porzingis, whose brilliance can be unstoppable.

Foul trouble was a problem at times for the Latvian unicorn and that wrinkle could have a major bearing on the outcome. With so much of the defense focused on Porzingis, Latvia often have plenty of shooters open. If they knock down their shots, Latvia are hard to stop.

Montenegro's defense will need to be elite for 40 minutes to pull off a victory. The winner will play undefeated Slovenia in the Quarter-Finals.

Serbia v Hungary (14:15 CET/15:15 local time) 

Tournament form - Serbia: WLWWW - Hungary: LLWWL

Key Match-up: Bogdan Bogdanovic v Adam Hanga. In a match-up of explosive shooting guards, this head-to-head contest will be pivotal in shaping the outcome. 

Both led their teams in scoring and efficiency and carry much of the load offensively. Hanga was more efficient from deep in the Group Phase and, if that continues in this game, Hungary could cause an upset. 

Breakdown: Despite some big names missing, Serbia are one of the fancies of the tournament and they proved why with a solid Group Phase. Bogdanovic shoulders much of the load offensively and is complemented on the inside by towering center Boban Marjanovic, who looms as a match-winner with his size advantage in the paint. 

Hungary rely on their perimeter strength with Hanga supported by David Vojvoda and Zoltan Perl. The trio need to collectively fire for Hungary to pull off a victory. The winner meets Italy in the Quarter-Finals. 

After the 4-1 group phase, it's time for win or go home games!😤Can't wait! #thirsty I will miss my @ulkersportsarena 🤗☺️

A post shared by Bogdan Bogdanovic (@bogdan.bogdanovic13) on

Spain v Turkey (17:45 CET/18:45 local time)

Tournament form - Spain: WWWWW - Turkey: LWLWL

Key Match-up: Pau Gasol v Semih Erden. Spain has so many big guns, it's hard to pick out one but ageless marvel Pau Gasol continues to be his team's leading player. Gasol led his team in points, rebounds and efficiency and in the process became the EuroBasket's all-time leading scorer.

Erden performed well in the Group Phase and will need to use all his experience to limit Gasol and Spain's other talented big men, including Marc Gasol.

Breakdown: Bar a challenge from Croatia, Spain cruised through the Group Phase to strengthen their favoritism tag. They have a bucket load of talent in every position and are studded with stars. 

It looms as a tough prospect for Turkey, who will rely on their vocal home fans for inspiration. If Turkey are to cause a major boil over, then Cedi Osman needs to dominate. The Cleveland Cavaliers player was sensational in the Group Phase leading his team across all major statistical categories.

Osman needs to play at his absolute best, coupled with an elite sustained team defensive effort for Turkey to stand a chance. The winner plays Germany in the Quarter-Finals. 

Croatia v Russia (20:30 CET/21:30 local time)

Tournament form - Croatia: WWWLW - Russia: WWWLW

Key Match-up: Bojan Bogdanovic v Aleksei Shved. Both explosive guards were prolific in the Group Phase averaging over 20 points per game. They were lights out from deep, particularly Bogdanovic who shot at an astounding clip of 55 percent. 

It looms as a shootout between them with each capable of winning the game off their red hot hands. 

Breakdown: This game looms as a tossup with the teams fairly evenly matched. The loser will be bitterly disappointed with Croatia and Russia having high hopes of contending for a medal. 

For Russia, Shved's outside game is a perfect foil for Timothy Mozgov's inside presence and the pair loom as the key players for Croatia to stop. Mozgov will be relied upon to dictate against Croatia's frontcourt, which includes Phoenix Suns lottery pick Dragan Bender who struggled in the Group Phase.  

Croatia will be looking to play at a fast pace and run the floor with Bogdanovic complemented by the wizardy of Dario Saric and veteran Marko Tomas.

The winner of the game will genuinely feel like they are in medal contention and faces Greece in the Quarter-Finals. 

 FIBA