New York Offers Special Viewing for Eurobasket Final 16

Most of the sports gambling focus this weekend will be on the opening of the NFL season. But not everyone is an NFL fans, and we do not want the hoopheads cut out of the action this weekend.

Eurobasket ’22 is now down to 16 teams, with the knockout round beginning Saturday in Berlin. This is a tournament that has been on hold for five years, and the enthusiasm with which these national teams play is on an Olympic level.

Who is Left? How Good Are They?

So let’s take a look at the 16 matchups and give you an idea of where there is money to be made, aside from betting that Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Nikola Jokic and going to grab most of the attention as the tournament headliners.

We shall go in the order with which the games are being played and where you can watch in New York City.

SATURDAY:

Turkey vs. France: We have already told you that Evan Fournier for tournament MVP is not the worst wagering idea in the history of wagering ideas, and he is leading the team in scoring at 15.0 points per game, but is just 103rd in 3-pointers.

The French have a history of folding in big games — or at least they did until last summer’s Olympics, when they went 5-0 before dropping the gold medal game against the United States — but they also have Rudy Gobert, along with a level of international experience that trumps what the Turks have.

France lost its opener to Germany and then beat Lithuania, Hungary, and Bosnia-Herzegovina before getting 47 dropped on them by Luka Doncic. Turkey defeated Montenegro, Bulgaria, and Belgium (not exactly Murderers Row) and lost to Georgia and Spain. France is favored by 8 1/2, which seems about right, given their success in big games as tournament move forward. The over/under of 153 1/2 seems low given that France plays an uptempo NBA style.

Place to Watch: Lucien on the Lower East Side (14 1st Ave.). Yes, the neighborhood is gentrified, but the French pubs keep things the way they were a decade or two ago.

Slovenia vs. Belgium: Luka Doncic is the guy everyone is raving about, and Belgium cannot stop him. If this game was about who makes the better chocolate and the better beer, Belgium would win hands down. But that is not the case. Belgium snuck in with an upset win over Spain in the preliminary round, but they are probably the weakest team at this level and may only have to defend Doncic for two or 2 1/2 quarters because this shapes up as a blowout. When you are facing a superstud who can do stuff like this …

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Yeah, the guy is out of control. He had 45 against France, and France plays defense. Belgium, am 18 1/2-point underdog, stands little chance. Slovenia is the defending Eurobasket champion, and Berlin will be rocking with folks who made the journey from Llubjana.

Best place to watch: Pekarna is a 6,4500-quare foot Slovenia restaurant on the Upper West Side of Manhattan at the corner of 89th and Amsterdam. Bring your wallet, it ain’t cheap. They have Pernod absinthe at $20 a pop. But just do not go Van Gogh on us while watching Luka go off.

Germany vs. Montenegro: The Germans have the home court advantage in Berlin, and Dennis Schroeder has ben having a good tournament coming in at 10th in points per game at 28.3 (at least he finally is doing something right after making one of the largest contractual bad decisions in NBA history). Germany went 4-1 in the toughest group, its only loss coming by eight points against Slovenia while also defeating France, Lithuania, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Hungary.  They are scoring 92.6 points per game, third behind Slovenia and Serbia, and they are favored by 11 1/2 points against a Montenegro team that scored only 72.6 points per game — hence the startlingly low over/under of 157 1/2. Kendrick Perry (a duel citizenship point guard from Youngstown State) must defend Schroeder, and the only work of caution is that Germany has defeated only one team (Hungary) by more than 13 points.

Best place to watch: Montenegro Grill, 28-08 34th Street, Astoria, Queens. Why this place? Well, they do not have a menu, but serve some of the best-reviewed Eastern European dishes in all of New York, and any New Yorkers who have never been to Astoria have been cheating themselves. Queens has the best ethnic joints of any of the five boroughs, and this place drawn folks from many of the former Yugoslav republics. Since they are not Serbians, they will be able to stomach a loss.

Spain vs. Lithuania: Should be the best game of the day. Both teams are perennial European powerhouses, and Jonas Valanciunas should be the most dominant player, because Spain does not have a center who can match up with him. Spain has won the past three meetings between the teams, but that was with a squad that was a perennial medal threat at both the World Cup and the Olympics. JV is averaging 18.4 points and 11.4 rebounds, and Lithuania is playing the role of Lazarus after losing their first three games. They are favored by 5 1/2 against a Spanish team that played in the easier preliminary round group and managed to lose to Belgium. If you have followed European basketball tournaments (and Olympics) involving national teams over the years, you are aware that the Lithuanians always emerge standing toward the end. Valanciunas and Domantas Sabonis may represent the best NBA one-two punch for any of these teams. Spain looks outmatched.

Best place to watch: Yes, New York has a Lithuanian bar. It is in the vibrant borough of Queens, and they will find a way to have this game on the television while serving Sudbvry beer and Lugelis and Koldunia, dumpling-like dishes that combine potatoes and bacon and are served with sour cream and thus do not suck. It is located at 71-22 Myrtle A=venue in the Glendale section of Queens. Spaniards, knowledgeable about the fervor of Lithuania hoops fans, will likely not be there.

SUNDAY:

POLAND vs. UKRAINE:

Day 2 of the Round of 16 begins with these two former Soviet satellites playing, and the metropolitan area has more Ukrainians and Poles that you might imagine, many of them concentrated in Brooklyn — although Ukranians are not scattered about because many have fled their homeland due to the war. Neither team is a traditional basketball powerhouse, and both finished 3-2 in relatively weak groups in the opening round. Poland’s lost by 27 against Serbia and 30 against Finland, while Ukraine lost by 20 to Greece but just 5 to Croatia. The line is Ukraine – 3 1/2, which seems too small. Poland is just not that good, and the Round of 16 always includes a team or two that are just happy t be there. We will avoid the temptation to describe this one as a draw when it comes to the beauty of the women from each of these two countries. Ukraine has the best player Svi Mykhailiuk. Should be a close game.

Best place to watch: Since the ear with Russia began, New Yorkers have been flocking to the Ukrainian restaurant Veselka in the East Village. But we recommend an old Polish can around the corner on 6th Street between Avenue A and First Avenue, the Cherry Tavern, because they have a pool table and still have a special that they have had for $20 years: A shot of Tequila and a Tecate for $5.

Some Games Are Better Than Others

FINLAND vs. CROATIA: Croatia has the better beaches, unless you like whale watching and ice flows. Croatia also has a richer basketball history, although Finland has been making a name for itself because of the fervor of the crowd that travel to the games, and because of the prowess of Lauri Markkanen, who just got traded to Utah in the Donovan Mitchell deal. Finland lost by 30 to Serbia in the group phase, and Markannen is fourth in scoring at 24.8 points per game, and his future Utah teammate Bojan Bogdanovic, is eighth at 18.4 ppg. This should be a shootout between the two of them, and because Croatia has four players either in the NBA now or with NBA experience, the Finns should be finnuto when this one ends. The question is whether they will cover the 5 1/2-point spread. Four of their five pool games were decided by 5 points or less.

Best place to watch: Selo Restaurant at 33-05 Broadway in the Astoria section of Queens keeps Medvedgrad Zlatni Medved Pilsner from Croatia in stock along with Dva Klasa, a Croatian HefeWeissen. The Finns have no bars in NY. Years ago they did in East Harlem, but those days are long gone by.

Serbia vs. Italy: FIBA saved the two best games for last, and these ones will be going up against NFL football and thus will only draw the hardest of hard cores. This game is a chance to see Nikola Jokic have a chance to best Doncic’s 47-point outburst from a couple days ago, although Jokic is not a flat-out scorer in the same vein as Doncic. Going into the Round of 16, he is averaging 19.6 points, good for sixth, 6.6 rebounds (fourth) and 4.4 assists (20th). He will be playing an Italian team that went 3-2 in group play with losses to Greece and Ukraine, and they lost Dainlo Gallinari to a knee injury.  As a result, the line is the third-largest of an knockout round game: 10 1/2 points. The Serbs are undefeated (5-0) and have won every game by at least 11 points, and we think this line should probably be higher.

Best place to watch: The East Village on a Sunday is wall-to-wall cool people mixed in with the dregs of the planet, and the restaurant-tavern Kafana on Avenue C is a heck of a place to go for grilled meat and urban theater, especially with the recent crime wave in New York helping Alphabet City return to its roots as a place where you should go if you want to take your life into your hands.

Greece vs. Czech Republic: This will be Giannis Antetokounmpo’s first chance to better what Doncic did the other night, and he is certainly capable of surpassing 45 points against what should be a vastly overmatched opponent. The Czechs advanced by defeating Israel in their final game, but they finished 2-3 and are the beneficiaries of Europe having about 12 good teams and four others that get to advance so that the organizers have have eight knockout games when the Round of 16 begins. The line seems low: 12 1/2. Then again, the Greeks tend to get overconfident at times. Still, this one should only remain competitive for a short time, allowing viewers to turn their attention to football earlier than they might have is a more competitive game was in this time slow.

Best place to watch: Taverna Kyclades, 33-07 Ditmars Blvd. Astoria, Queens.  This section of Queens is loaded with Greek Tavernas, and you can basically pick any one you want and not leave disappointed. Finding one with a TV tuned to this game may be tricky, but remember that that games can be viewed on ESPN+, which you can stream to your phone. The Greeks in these restaurants will not mind if you have the game on. The mood in this neighborhood is super casual and non-pretentious.

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