So, sorry for being late, and sorry for making this a bit shorter than intended, but here's part 3 (Group C) of the Eurobasket Preview.
This is my favorite group, since Greece is in it. This part might be more biased than the others, but my information might be more accurate as well.
Group C, starring
Montenegro: The main weapon of the team is Nikola Pekovic, a center currently (not) playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves. He is a pure center; he will not leave the paint and camp near the three-point-line, he will fight for position and will put the ball in the hoop regardless of how ugly the move might seem. He rarely dunks, is not NBA-Highlight-Reel material, but he's a highly efficient scoring machine. While Montenegro's frontcourt is of good quality (they even got a guy listed at 2,30 m, if the official eurobasket site is to be believed), their backcourt is significantly worse, and this will show against guard-heavier teams.
FYROM: Imagine the Phoenix Suns of Mike D'Antoni. First words that come to mind naturally are offense and defense, or better said lack thereof. FYROM will employ a run-and-gun style of play, and they have been known to hit the 100-point ceiling rather often (remember european basketball is played in four quarters of 10 minutes). Their primary option will be Bo McCalebb, obviously of FYROM descent, and deadly guard player (best in driving to the hoop and making long twos whenever the rest of the team cannot make a basket if their lives depended on it), but he figures to get some help from Pero Antic, a PF every team would like to have: a reliable scoring option (surprisingly quick hands in offense) and a good rebounder, ready to hustle.
Greece: Ah, here we are, at last. Greece had established itself as a european basketball powerhouse, achieving notable success in recent years and always losing to Spain whenever the teams met (reasons vary; the zebras are a really important one). However, the team that represents Greece in this tournament has little to do with any of the recent ones. Injuries, personal reasons or retirement have left a good chunk of the elder statesmen out of competition. As a matter of fact, only four of the team members were present when Greece defeated the US in the Japan Worlds; that was 2006. Leading scorer Vassilis Spanoulis (had a brief tenure with the Rockets) as well as the only pure SF of the team, Stratos Perperoglou, are out with injury, three-dimensional point guard Dimitris Diamantidis and seasoned leader Theodoros Papaloukas are retired from national play, and massive C Sofoklis Schortsianitis left for personal reasons. Still, this team will surprise many people that have already written them off. They possess (for the first time in recent years) a pure shooter, have a nice frontcourt rotation and imaginative (former) Gators PG Nick Calathes at the helm. The team could do with a little more depth at the guards positions, and with a little more experience, but hustle and team work might overcome such obstacles.
Croatia is like, the most unlucky team ever. Every single tournament they present a team with respectable talent level, that usually fails miserably in pool play, and is disqualified from further competition. They often had locker room issues and broke up after the first adversities. They figured to do better this time around, but lost frontman Roko Leni Ukic, who happens to be the motor and main PG of the team. He's a really talented guy, and can provide everything you can ask out of a point guard: driving, assists, shooting. He only contributes with the ball in his hands, but Croatia won't be as dangerous without him.
Bosnia and Herzegobina: a classic soviet-block team. They don't have players with strong personalities, or the talent level of Croatia, but they are decent from range, have international experience and aren't afraid to play physically. The most important player on the team is Mirza Teletovic. He is listed as a PF, though he is most dangerous from 3-point-land. He is known to possess devastating range, and depending on the night he can destroy either team. The x-factor player is Nihad Dedovic, a 21-year old SG with nice driving abilities and inconsistent outside shot. He is the second option in the offensive game of the team. The weak spot is the frontcourt. Forwards and Centers of the team know the basics, but they do not constitute a source of problems for opposing teams. The challenge will mostly lie in dealing with Teletovic rather than stopping inside play.
Finland: Last but not least, the Finnish. The only serious upside of the team is the fact that they have been playing qualifying games for the whole summer, so they should be in battle mode. They do not remind at finnish squads of old, though, and I expect them to fulfill their underdog status. Their chance at victories lie in opponents underestimating them, or being inexperienced, which will probably not be the case in this group.
Prediction: Now that's intriguing. I'd like Greece to go on - and believe they can do it. The other teams, it will be a question of controlling the rythm. FYROM will profit and flourish in fast-paced games, whereas Montenegro will try and slow down. The most viable option for Croatia seems to be to go big as well. Bosnia-Herzegobina depends too much on Teletovic. All in all, I think Greece, FYROM and Bosnia-Herzegobina will go on.
going to sleep. cu soon