SEPT. 4: TURKEY VS. FINLAND
Cohen’s Analysis: Finland is finally starting to make progress with its basketball program after years of dourness. Before its surprising showing at Eurobasket 2011, in which it prevailed in three of its games, Finland had not qualified for this event since 1995.
Suddenly, the Finns have made its mark on the game in the U.S. It features three players who all played their college ball at Valparaiso and four others with U.S. collegiate experience, including veteran Hanno Mottola, who the Hawks drafted in 2000.
Its best player, however, is Petteri Koponen, a former first round NBA draft pick. Koponen led Finland in scoring at both EuroBasket 2011 and last summer’s qualification round campaign.
Despite its sudden resurgence on the basketball map, Finland is not expected to be much of a challenge against Turkey. Omer Asik will likely bully over Finland’s interior and Ersan Ilyasova’s versatility will be too vast for the Finns to keep up.