The 2013 FIBA EuroBasket Semifinals is finally here. After two gut-wrenching elimination rounds and a frantic quarterfinal battle, the playing field is only down to four teams: France, Spain, Lithuania and Croatia. The showdown between basketball rivals Spain and France will serve as the main event of Friday's exciting triple header, but the other semifinals pairing of Lithuania and Croatia is also up to provide non-stop hoops action at its finest.
FIBA EuroBasket 2013 Spain vs. France
Lithuania vs. Croatia
As expected, both Lithuania and Croatia survived their respective quarterfinal assignments to set up an intriguing semifinal clash on Friday. Lithuania is loaded with excellent young big men such as Toronto Raptors star Jonas Valanciunas, Houston Rockets power forward Donatas Motiejūnas and former NBA veteran Linas Kleiza. However, with their NBA guys struggling, Mantas Kalnietis and Renaldas Seibutis stepped up as both chipped in 17 each to power Lietuva past Italy in the quarterfinals.
Meanwhile, Croatia will be fielding a unit without a legitimate NBA player. Bojan Bogdanovic, who could have played with the Brooklyn Nets this season if only the buyout negotiation with his current ballclub worked out, has been the focal point of Croatia's offense throughout the tournament. Then again, the other guys took the game to another level when needed as Krunoslav Simon (23 point) and Dontaye Draper (six assists) each provided big numbers in Friday's quarterfinal meeting with Ukraine.
This is going to be another pulsating match-up between the two high-powered but underrated basketball nations. Lithuania might have the depth and the NBA-caliber players, but Croatia possessed an incredible resilience to survive adversities.
It will be a head-to-head clash between Lithuania's Valanciunas and Croatia's Bogdanovic, who are both primed to chalk up monster numbers in this make-or-break game. Then again, the difference maker will always be the other guys. With the depth they have, I can see Lithuania advancing to the final but not before fending off a strong challenge from Croatia.
FIBA EuroBasket Semifinals Live Stream & Schedule (Manila/ Perth Time)
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