Finland Saline and Markanen, the last hurdle for Spain in the semi-finals

Markanin crushes the basket for Croatia. / Fiba

The Baltic team surprised and eliminated Croatia with 43 points from the pivot and 17 from the former saver

John Calderon

Duel is offered. Spain will seek to reach the semi-finals of the European Championship against Finland on Tuesday (5:15 pm, 4th). On paper, it appears to be the most accessible competitor, but Team Baltic is tough to break into. Let them tell Croatia, who caught the dust in front of a team that plays well in basketball and beat them 94-86. These are not good times for the Balkan team, which has disappeared from the podiums and even from the semi-finals of the national team championships, despite the presence of players such as Saric, Khizunga, Bogdanovic, Simon or the nationalized Glenn Smith.

Finland did not emerge as one of the top eight potential teams in the tournament, but they are a good block and have a strong quintet. Two men on the team led by Lassi Tuovi, center Lauri Markkanen, have featured since 2017 in the NBA and now in the ranks of the Utah Jazz, and former treasurer Sasu Salin. They are joined by veteran Petteri Koponen (Khimki, Barcelona, ​​Bayern, as well as other teams) and Manresa goalkeeper Valtonen. They are the most famous faces of a group of up to eight Eurobasket novices. It sounds easy, but the Finns are playing very well and as Saleen has shown for years in Spain, they are a tough team on a physical level.

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Finland reached the quarter-finals for the first time since 1967 and did so thanks to one of the great performances in the tournament. Markanen scored a whopping 43 points against Croatia, which combined with Saleen 17, was more than half of his team’s points.

The meeting will be experienced in a special way in Fuengirola, where the second largest colony of Finns in the world is concentrated (about 6000), after only Sweden. The bars and restaurants of the city are sure to record a great vibe on a Tuesday afternoon. For Finland, a country of 5.5 million people, this match is a national event.

Spain starts as the favorite to reach the semi-finals of the Eurobasket. The team received praise after the brilliant match against Lithuania. The direction and scoring of Lorenzo Brown, the growth of Garuba and Willie Hernangomez and the fighting ability of Alberto Diaz, but also the excellent direction of Sergio Scarello, advised by Angel Sanchez Canetti of Málaga, among others. It is clear that the renewed squad for the national team has been strengthened and is clearly in the process of growth, something they will have to confirm against Finland. In addition to qualifying for Finland, Poland also reached the quarter-finals after beating Ukraine 86-94.

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