Suns Euro-blog: Gortat, Kravtsov Dominate the Paint in Respective Wins
Marcin Gortat and the Poland national team made sure to leave EuroBasket 2013 on a high note.
The only negative was handing Phoenix Suns teammate Goran Dragic and host country Slovenia a 71-61 loss in the process.
Gortat punched in with a double-double of 19 points and 12 rebounds for Poland, who started the tournament 0-4 and failed to qualify for the final round. To their credit, they showed up to play anyway, quieting a normally involved and raucous crowd in Celje, Slovenia.
The Suns’ big man was in his element, hitting jump hooks, jump shots and jumping for alley-oops, including a flying two-handed crush in the fourth quarter as Poland pulled away. He and teammate Thomas Kelati combined for 40 of their team’s 71 points, and Gortat finished the tournament with averages of 10.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game.
Dragic and Slovenia were coming off a two-point overtime loss to Croatia the day before, a big upset win over Spain earlier last week, and were entering their fifth game in six days with an four-point average margin of victory. Consequently, fatigue appeared to play a factor for the host nation, which fell behind early and struggled to close the gap.
The Suns point guard finished with nine points and two steals for Slovenia, which finished third in Group C. They will advance to the next round, where they will play Italy on Thursday at 8:45 a.m. PST.
Kravtsov continues to intimidate
Ukraine’s national team has a stop sign coming off the bench, and his name is Viacheslov Kravtsov.
Phoenix’s recently acquired big man has made a habit of denying inside attempts by the opposition, and he continued the habit against Great Britain on Monday. In just 19 minutes of play, Kravtsov rejected three shots while adding eight points, four rebounds and two assists to his stat line.
Ukraine finished group play 4-1, with their young big man providing meaningful minutes every step of the way. Kravtsov is averaging just over 17 minutes per game through five contests, but is averaging 7.2 points, four rebounds and two blocks per game. The latter statistic is tied with fellow Suns big man Marcin Gortat for first in EuroBasket 2013.
Latvia will be the next team to take a crack at Kravtsov and Ukraine on Wednesday at 5:30 a.m. PST.