The EuroBasket 2022 quarterfinals are in the books. France beat Italy in overtime, 93-85. Poland made history, downing Slovenia 87-90 to reach the semifinals for the first time since 1951. Both teams join already-qualified Spain and Germany in the medal rounds.
EuroBasket: France, Poland reach the semis
France edges Italy in overtime thriller
In a battle of classic powerhouses that went to overtime, France made it to the EuroBasket 2022 semifinals by edging Italy 93-85. France reached its fourth semifinal in the last five EuroBaskets, denying Italy the chance to reach this stage for the first time since 2003. Thomas Heurtel led the winners with 20 points. Rudy Gobert added 19 and 14 rebounds, Evan Fournier had 17 points and Guerschon Yabusele of Real Madrid got 15 for Les Bleus. Umana Reyer Venice guard Marco Spissu and Simone Fontecchio led Italy with 21 points apiece. Luigi Datome added 12 and his EA7 Emporio Armani Milan teammate Nicolo Melli had 10. Heurtel took the game to overtime with a driving layup and made the difference in the extra period,
Fournier had 9 quick points to give France an 11-3 lead. Spissu, Fontecchio and Datome buried a triple apiece to keep Italy within 21-17 late in the first quarter. Heurtel and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot each struck twice from beyond the arc to make it a double-digit game, 33-22. Achille Polonara of Anadolu Efes Istanbul and Melli of Milan brought Italy closer, 38-31, at halftime. Melli and Polonara kept pacing Italy, attacking the tim for easy points, and Datome buried a triple off a screen to make France call timeout at 53-52. Datome got help from Virtus Segafredo Bologna guard Nico Mannion and Polonara to complete the Italian comeback, 56-62, after 30 minutes. France found a go-to guy in Heurtel, who joined forces with Gobert to bring their team within 68-70 with 3 minutes left. Spissu hit free throws and found Fontecchio for a triple that seemed to seal the outcome, 68-75. France bounced back, however, to get as close as 75-77 on a tip-in by Terry Tarpey already in the final minute. Fontecchio missed free throws and Heurtel answered with a driving layup that tied the game, 77-77, with 5.2 seconds left in regulation. Fontecchio missed around the basket at the buzzer. Heurtel stayed on fire early in overtime with a jumper and a couple of layups, good for an 85-82 French lead. Gobert and Terry Tarpey made the difference down the stretch, sending France closer to the title.
Poland beats Slovenia, makes history
Poland sent a message that echoed all around the competition by topping Slovenia 87-90. Poland reached the EuroBasket semifinals for the first time since 1971, and Mateusz Ponitka became the third player to register a triple-double since 1995, when rebounds started to be counted at the event. Ponitka finished the game with 26 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists, joining Toni Kukoc (Croatia, 1995) and Andrei Mandache (Romania, 2017) in the triple-double club. AJ Slaughter of Gran Canaria added 16 points, Michal Sokolowski 15, Jaroslaw Zyskowski 14 and Olek Balcerowski also of Gran Canaria 11. Vlatko Cancar had 21 points for Slovenia. Goran Dragic added 17, and former EuroLeague MVP and Final Four MVP Luka Doncic had 14.
Balcerowski stepped up early with 9 quick points, giving Poland an 11-15 lead. Jaka Blazic followed a driving layup with a triple and Cancar added a fastbreak slam that tied it at 18-18. Slaughter stepped up for Poland, getting help from Zyskowski and Sokolowski to make Poland restore a 26-29 edge after 10 minutes. Sokolowski, Ponitka, Zyskowski and Aleksander Dziewa of Slask Wroclaw fueled a mamooth 2-22 run that seemed to break the game open, 31-54, but Slovenia had other ideas. Doncic and Cancar brought their team a bit closer, 39-58, at halftime. Slovenia improved its defense after the break and found a new go-to guy in Dragic, who got his team with single digits, 52-60. Poland kept struggling to score while Cancar and Blazic each struck from downtown to bring Slovenia back to life, 60-61, after a 24-3 run. Dragic hit a jumper to complete the Slovenian comeback, 65-64, early in the fourth quarter. Klemen Prepelic of Valencia Basket stepped up with 6 quick points but Slaughter made Poland regain a 74-76 lead. Ponitka had 5 points and a steal in an 0-8 run that put Poland ahead for good, 76-84. Ponitka sealed his fantastic performance with another triple that sealed the outcome, 80-87, in the next-to-last minute. Slovenia never gave up but Poland had plenty of reasons to celebrate after the final buzzer.