Crying for Shengelia lingers in Tbilisi. The captain, leader on the track and national symbol of Georgia, has missed the Eurobasket due to injury in which his country is one of the venues. His image continues to appear in front of the team on the posters that dress the city and the pavilion, the Tbilisi Arena. But the number 23 is not here, after injuring his right shoulder at the end of August in a qualifying match for the World Cup, and his absence has left a huge void in the rival this Friday of the Spanish team (7:00 p.m., Four) in the second group A match. Georgia already suffered it in its debut with an unexpected overtime defeat against Belgium (79-76), a slip that forces the locals to raise the temperature before their fans in the race for the round of 16 (four sets of six from each group).
Shengelia's figure is measured both by her fierceness on the track and her leadership. Tornike is more than a player. When in 2020 he signed for CSKA Moscow after being champion of the ACB with Baskonia, the president of Georgia said that it was an "inadmissible" decision due to the political tensions between the two countries. The power forward argued that signing for a club did not alter his commitment to the flag. And he attested to it when Russia invaded Ukraine. He then decided to immediately leave the Russian army club and ended up signing for Virtus de Bologna directed by Sergio Scariolo.
“My dream as a child, before going to the NBA, was to defend my country. The tingling when listening to the anthem is still the same as when he was a kid and watched the games. Now, being down there on the court is the best. Playing with my national team is my greatest satisfaction. It is something that cannot be explained. Nobody looks at his statistics, we all fight for the flag, ”he said in an interview with EL PAÍS in 2020.
Without the soul of Shengelia, Georgia suffered against Belgium despite its imposing towers. His best asset was Mamukelashvili, a 2.11m center for the Bucks, who added 18 points and 13 rebounds, to 14 and 9 for Bitadze, for the Pacers, another stem of 2.13. Shermadini, a 2.16m giant who is still at Tenerife after passing through Zaragoza, Andorra and Unicaja, looks down on the two of them. Spain will have a cut under the hoops because Willy Hernangómez sets the highest bar with 2.09, his brother Juancho and Pradilla are at 2.05 and Garuba at 2.03. "Defensively you have to take a step forward," warns Scariolo; “We have to reduce errors because we don't have such a large size. We have to prevent the ball from entering our paint”.
Results and classification of the Eurobasket.