All tournament long, teams have seemed to underestimate Macedonia. Now you can add Lithuania to the list after an upset Wednesday — and that means Lithuania has given itself a long road to even get into the London Olympics next summer.
Here are the results from the first two knockout round quarterfinal games at EuroBasket (where the two finalists will get automatic berths in the 2012 Games).
Macedonia 67, Lithuania 65: You don’t know who Bo McCalebb is unless you are an alumni of the University of New Orleans, where he played his college ball. And even then it’s questionable. But the American born guard will never have to buy dinner in Macedonia again. The veteran of the European circuit (he plays in Italy for Montepaschi Siena) had 23 points to lead Macedonia to an upset over one of the teams expected to challenge for the finals here. Remember, Lithuania was the host of this tournament, a lot was expected.
Macedonia has been one of the better defensive teams in this tournament, and they slowed Lithuania’s pick and roll enough, but it is always a question of offense with them. McCalebb provided it as he has done all tournament.
Now Lithuania will have to beat Slovenia Thursday for the right to advance to the pre-Olympic last chance qualifying tournament next summer (where all the teams that just missed this summer get to fight for a second chance spot in the games).
Macedonia is into the semi-finals against Spain. Win that and they get an Olympics berth, lose that and they are in the qualifying tournament.
Spain 86, Slovenia 64: Spain has looked like the best team in this tournament, which really should worry teams since they traditionally start slow in these things and get hot at the right time. They were hot on Wednesday and crushed Slovenia behind 26 from Juan Carlos Navarro.
Spain should beat Macedonia in the next round. Then again, Lithuania and a lot of other teams have thought the same thing. If Spain thinks they can coast, they will be in trouble.
Slovenia plays Lithuania Thursday for the chance to play next summer in the qualifying tournament.
Also up Thursday in other quarterfinal action, France vs. Greece and Russia vs. Serbia.