Preview by Yarone Arbel
|The big absentee is Zaza Pachulia, the opposite number of Pero Antic. Georgia will have to come up with an alternative plan to contain the F.Y.R. of Macedonia big forward|
GROUP F - THURSDAY AT 15:30 (14:30 CET)
The standings show F.Y.R. of Macedonia are on a 2-0 record while Georgia are at the bottom of Group F with a 0-2 balance, but don't be fooled - there isn't a clear favourite here.
Yet this does mean something - a win by F.Y.R. of Macedonia will bring them very close to a historical quarter-finals while a loss of Georgia will push them very far away from the main goal.
F.Y.R. of Macedonia arrive to Vilnius on a huge momentum of four wins in a row in Group C, but streaks tend to end and even for the big experienced teams winning five in a row in such a big tournament is difficult.
Bo McCalebb is on fire here and in all games he's scored 17 points or more, yet in just one of them he connected in over 44% from the floor.
Together with Vlado Ilievski they create a very dangerous backcourt where each player completes the other.
Yet the main force of this team is the big guys.
Pero Antic, Predrag Samardzinski and Todor Gecevski create a trio of players at 2.08m and up with not only height but also big muscles.
The first two are perhaps more dangerous offensively on the arc, but still bring big mass to the floor, something Georgia might struggle with.
Georgia had an up-and-down performance in Group D and made it to this stage because of no more than four points, yet when they were up they looked really good.
Center Zaza Pachulia is expected to miss the game, and this could create big problems for Georgia, considering the mentioned trio of F.Y.R. of Macedonia.
Yet Georgia have already shown, against Russia and Ukraine, that even on a bad day of Pachulia they can certainly play well.
Viktor Sanikidze and Manu Markoishvili remain the main executers of Georgia and they are lethal especially from the wing, which is where their opponent is the weakest. Would that be enough?
Head-to-Head: With Georgia visiting the EuroBasket for the first time, this is obviously the debut feud between these two teams on the big stage, but in 2004 and 2005 they met in... Division B games and split the victories.
Last Time Out: Georgia allowed Bulgaria's late fourth quarter run to create a 10-point defeat, while F.Y.R. of Macedonia earned their 4th win in a row with a 75-63 victory over Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Key Match-Up: At the age of 29 Pero Antic seems in top shape. The big guy produced so far 13.4 points and 9.4 rebounds per game including two big double-doubles in the last two. Georgia's direct match up was supposed to be Zaza Pachulia, but the big man is injured and the load will fall on the shoulders of 22-year-old Giorgi Shermadini. If he fails to match-up with Antic Georgia doesn't have another true big man to stop him.
Key Stat: F.Y.R. of Macedonia shot the ball only in 37.5% from the floor and stand on 41.5% from two-point range. Only one out of the 24 participating teams - Portugal- did worse in both categories and Portugal didn't win a game here. Nevertheless the Group C champs steal the ball more than any other team here with 8.2 per game, and get easy points on fast breaks. If Georgia protect the ball and force F.Y.R. of Macedonia to play set offense, the will be closer to a key win.
X-Factor: With the absence of Georgia's Pachulia and the limited experience of Shermadini, the only other player with big length in Georgia is Nikoloz Tskitishvili. At 2.12m he's playing the power forward and certainly isn't a true center, but Georgia will need him to upgrade his game - only 2 points and 1 rebounds so far in 10 minutes - to do damage.
Sounding Off: "Nobody expected four wins from us and especially after the first game which we lost against Montenegro. We have done all of this for our fans and in Round 2 I really hope even more will come from F.Y.R. of Macedonia. We have done an amazing job. Our chemistry is at a truly high level right now. Our team has been together for a long time, we are all great friends both on and off the court and this is the most important thing for me." - Vlado Ilievski, F.Y.R. of Macedonia