Hello everybody! My screen name is galicae, and as every two years I am bringing you the Eurobasket 2013 you know and love. Many people in the US kind of ignore the fact that basketball is a very popular sport at the other side of the pond, but being a soft Euro that can't jump myself, I cannot help but like and follow the scene.
Since I am short on time, this preview will be shorter than last year's; dive in for an overview of the most exciting the european scene has to offer.
- Great Britain
The absolute favorite from this group are France. Les Bleus again bring a team that seems destined to choke at the most important game, leaving Parker without a Euro title in his illustrious career. Their frontcourt-less team might cruise through the group but will face problems against teams with people with legit 7-footers. Great Britain are without Luol Deng
, so I write them off, Ukraine and Belgium have never been important in basketball, and Israel have historically been underachievers, but bring a roster full of experience. Germany brings enough talent to get them out of the group but not much farther.
- Bosnia & Herzegovina
In the group of former soviet republics Latvia are the clear pushovers. Bosnia & Herzegovina live and die by their shooters - they can beat everybody and lose to everybody. Lithuania look stronger this year but have a gaping hole at PG. FYROM bring a team poised to go deep, with lots of experience, proven scorers and reliable defense. Montenegro will miss Pekovic sorely, and Serbia looks poised to disappoint everyone once more. I can see Lithuania and FYROM playing a role later in the tournament and Serbia always remains a dark horse.
- Czech Republic
This group only contains former soviet republics as well - with the exception of Spain. The guys in red and gold are coming to the event with a depleted roster, compared to previous events, but are still the favorites to win it all. This will be the first time that Rubio gets enough time at the point for the Spaniards, an event interesting in its own right. The Czechs state they are out to surprise people, Croatia has intriguing young talent on board, Slovenia are solid but not great and Poland will try out twin towers but have no reliable backcourt. Georgia are missing Pachulia but will still bring their blue collar attitude to the court.
Last year's bronze medalists Russia field a team ravaged by circumstances and internal strife - they are substantially weakened and traditionally never were a flexible team. I don't expect them to adjust as quickly. FInland looks to repeat their newfound success and cement their reputation as an upcoming force. They won't challenge for first place, but are making themselves a staple. Italy is going to miss Bargnani. Sweden is an outsider but could surprise some people. Turkey is living the end of an era, with the players that still form the backbone of the team slowly reaching their 40s but refusing to let go. Omer Asik
will protect the middle and Turkoglu will still spearhead an offense that lacks a standout point guard. Greece is considered by many to be a favorite for this tournament. They picked a team not of "the best players available but of the players that best went together", as their new coach put it.
There are no clear favorites this year; Spain is sending a depleted team, France still relies on Parker too heavily, Russia has been torn apart and Greece must first prove themselves with a new coach. As always, the teams that perform consistently will have the edge in a best-of-1 knockout stage that sometimes reminds more of chess than of basketball.
There are however teams that have a clear talent and experience lead over the others. Spain, France and Greece are the teams to beat this year, and starting September 4th the best of Europe will be on display.
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