TEL AVIV (FIBA EuroBasket 2017) - A thrilling opening day of action at FIBA EuroBasket 2017 was highlighted by co-hosts Finland shocking France in overtime and Georgia stunning 2015 silver medalists Lithuania in a day full of great performances.
"We have 20 minutes to be happy about this and then we have to focus on Slovenia, which is another tough team. He (Markkanen) was great, he's a big talent and obviously he's a very special person. He showed that today," Wilson said. "My role is to provide energy. I have to come in to provide a spark. The first half was not good but we made energy plays in the second half that gave us a chance to win the game."
Georgia's answer to Markkanen and Wilson was Tornike Shengelia and Michael Dixon in a 79-77 win over Lithuania that had the feeling of Knockout Phase game. Shengelia poured in 29 points while Michael Dixon had 12 points and seven rebounds. Shengelia helped bring Georgia back from 12 points back and Dixon had two baskets and a free throw in the final two minutes to seal the deal. Mindaugas Kuzminskas picked up 18 points and seven rebounds for Lithuania, who beat Georgia in the Round of 16 at FIBA EuroBasket 2015.
"It is always special to play against Lithuania and then to beat them too. Everyone knows they are one of the best teams in Europe," Shengelia said. "It was very important because two years ago we lost a very special game against them. Thank god we got the victory. We always believed even though we were down for a lot of the game."
While Group A hosts Finland won, Italy rained on Israel's parade with a 69-48 victory against the home side of Group B in Tel Aviv. Marco Belinelli and Luigi Datome combined to hit 10 three-pointers in scoring 34 points in the win.
The top scorer of the day also comes from Group B as Dennis Schroder poured in 32 points to go with 7 assists in a 75-63 win over Ukraine. Robin Benzing added 17 points for Germany.
Also in Group A, Nikos Pappas tallied 20 points and Georgios Printezis chipped in 17 points in Greece's 90-61 win, as Iceland faded in the second half.
Groups A and B have a day off on Friday before playing their second games on Saturday. Groups C and D take center stage on Friday.