Preview by Yarone Arbel
|Georgia go into the do-or-die battle without point guard George Tsintsadze, the second loss to injury of an important player after center Zaza Pachulia |
GROUP F - SATURDAY AT 15:30 (14:30 CET)
The first game of the day will feature two teams in search of their debut win in the Second Round.
Finland dropped against Russia to 0-3 while Georgia was a step from a win but lost to F.Y.R of Macedonia by two points and share the same record.
Another loss for Georgia and they are out of the race, and this is probably not the best timing for them to reach such a critical game.
Zaza Pachulia's injury, that at first was supposed to keep him out for 4-5 days, won't allow him to play again in this championship.
On top of that during the first half against F.Y.R. of Macedonia the team also lost point guard George Tsintsadze.
He was later taken to a hospital and was diagnosed with a torn ACL, an injury that will keep him off the court for the next months.
Without these two players the rotation of Georgia, which isn't the longest in this championship in the first place, is even more limited.
Finland already showed they aren't a team to dismiss.
They have collected two wins in the first round and gave Russia some tough moments.
A depleted Georgia squad is certainly a bar not too high for the Finns.
Head-to-Head: The two teams have met four times already, all of them in Division B. Each team won two games with Georgia beating Finalnd 77-76 in 2007 in their last meeting.
Last Time Out: Finland lost to Russia 79-60 and fell to 0-3 in the group while Georgia came really close but saw Bo McCalebb beat the buzzer for a 65-63 win of F.Y.R. of Macedonia.
Key Match-Up: That's a tough call. Finland is strong where Georgia is injured. Point guard Petteri Koponen and center Gerald Lee set the tone for Finland while that's exactly where Georgia suffer from injuries. Georgia will relay on their wing players -Manu Markoishvili and Viktor Sanikidze- to dominate the game.
Key Stat: Finland scored nine three pointers on 43% and forced 19 turnovers on Russia. If they do the same trick versus Georgia their path to a debut win will be smoother.
X-Factor: Nikoloz Tskitishvili stepped up for Georgia in the last game and was the reason they came so close to a win. He improved his numbers from an average of 2.5 points per game to 20, and 1 rebound per game to 10. If he can do that again, Georgia will have the needed power to win. Without another step up, it's going to be a difficult task.
Sounding Off: "Russia showed us the difference between what is a world class team and one like us which is learning and challenging. If we want to take some credit from the Russian game, I guess we can say that they had to play Kirilenko for 18 minutes during the first half. I think this is the best compliment we can give ourselves," says Finland Head Coach Henrik Dettmann