#Spain2014: Round of 16 Micro Previews Part 2

Hola! Yes, it sucks that Gilas Pilipinas has been eliminated, but aren’t you even a little bit happy about how well they represented the Philippines? Our boys exceeded expectations and will come home heroes. ‘Nuff said.

Right now, however, the hoop wars in Spain aren’t over yet. Sixteen countries have survived the grueling group stages and have advanced to the dangerous knockout rounds, where one loss sends any team packing.

In this second of two parts, we will give micro previews of the next four Round of 16 matches.

Who moves on and who gets the boot in the Round of 16?

Rambulan na!

After going on a disastrous 0-3 start, the Tall Blacks rebounded and swept their last two matches, beating Ukraine and Finland to advance. Isaac Fotu and Kirk Penney have been great so far for the Kiwis, but they’ll have a really tough time engaging Lithuania’s balanced roster. I expect Jonas Valanciunas and Donatas Motiejunas to continue lording the paint for Lietuva, while Martynas Pocius and Adas Juskevicius should continue doing well in the perimeter. Everard Bartlett and Corey Webster have had flashes of brilliance in this tournament, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they get overmatched against the #4 ranked team in the world. If Fotu can get a ton of rebounds and if his teammates can make their long toms, we may have a tight match. Otherwise, Lithuania shouldn’t have much difficulty outmuscling New Zealand.

Jonas Valanciunas and Lithuania shouldn't have a very tough time getting
past Isaac Fotu and the Kiwis.

GREECE (5-0) vs SERBIA (2-3)
Despite Greece sporting an immaculate record so far, this won’t be a cakewalk. If not for a few breaks going the other way, the Serbs would have actually finished second in their group, so this encounter is closer than the teams’ respective win-loss slates suggest. Team Hellas will probably rely heavily on its frontline anew, with burly bigs Ioannis Bourousis, Georgios Printezis, and Kostas Kaimakoglou leading the way, while Serbia will look to counter with the bearded Miroslav Raduljica, veteran Nenad Krstic, and Nemanja Bjelica. The main x-factor might just be three-point shooting, though, and this is where the Serbs can pull the rug from under the Greeks. They hit the three ball at a good rate in the group phase, although they made just around 6.6 a game. Greece shoots at a slightly lower rate and at just about the same amount of makes per match (6.8). If Milos Teodosic, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Bjelica, and Stefan Markovic find the bottom of the net from long range, then coach Fotis Katsikaris’s squad might be in hot water. As long as the Greeks hold the advantage in rebounding and inside scoring, however, they might just make it to the next round. It’ll be close, but I’m leaning towards Greece slipping past dangerous Serbia.

It's a battle of the bearded ones as Ioannis Bourousis (he just shaved, though) of Greece is set to
tangle with Miroslav Raduljica of Serbia.

TURKEY (3-2) vs AUSTRALIA (3-2)
Turkey wrapped up its group games with big wins over Finland and Dominican Republic, which enabled the Turks to secure second spot and set a date with the Aussies, who are in the spotlight for purportedly tanking against Angola to avoid an early match with Team USA in the event the Boomers make the quarterfinals. It’s a little presumptuous for the Aussies to think they can get through, but Turkey might just be the kind of opponent Andrej Lemanis’s quintet can beat. In its loss to Ukraine in the group stage, Turkey got burned with 10 triples (Oleksandr Mishula accounting for 5), and, guess what, the Aussies are the best three-point shooting team in the whole tournament. The team from down under is hitting 52% of its rainbow shots, making upwards of 8 a game. In stark contrast, coach Ergin Ataman’s crew is nailing just 32% of its long toms. Australia’s frontline, led by Aron Baynes, David Andersen, and Nate Jawai, isn’t anything to scoff at either, averaging more points in the paint than the Turks. This’ll be another close one, but I expect to see Australia’s shooting, buoyed by a well-rested Joe Ingles, Chris Goulding, and Ryan Broekhoff, to take over and push the Boomers to the next round.

The hot shooting of Joe Ingles and the Boomers might be enough to overcome
the size and length of Emir Preldzic and the rest of the Turks.

BRAZIL (4-1) vs ARGENTINA (3-2)
These two fierce football rivals are set to face each other in what should be a titanic tussle for a spot in the final eight. The Brazilians have been mighty impressive so far, proving to be a balanced squad capable of outrebounding and outrunning its foes. They will definitely continue to lean on the scoring of Leandro Barbosa, Marcelinho Huertas, and Marquihos Vieira in this game, while their three-headed monster of a frontcourt – Anderson Varejao, Tiago Splitter, and Nene – will wreak havoc in the paint. Argentina, though, has not lost to Brazil on the world stage since absorbing a 74-66 defeat in 1967. Luis Scola, who has been Argentina’s main scoring threat, will have his toughest test yet in this tourney, while fellow veterans Walter Herrmann and Andres Nocioni should continue to be dangerous. The x-factors here for coach Julio Lamas will be Facundo Campazzo and Marcos Mata if those two guys manage to get hot somehow, then Brazil might get rattled enough to make some costly errors. Otherwise, look for Barbosa and co. to move on to the quarterfinals.

Continental rivals Argentina and Brazil fight for survival. Can Luis Scola
lead his squad past Leandro Barbosa's crew?

All images are from FIBA.com.

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