At this point in the end of summer/start of fall those of us basketball junkies are looking for a fix. That is where EuroBasket comes in.
If you’re asking “What is EuroBasket?” let us help you out with a little primer.
• What is EuroBasket? A FIBA tournament featuring 24 teams from Europe, being played in Slovenia the next couple weeks.
• What teams are going to be there? Some of the world’s best teams, this is a serious tournament. Here are the teams by group:
Group A: Ukraine, Great Britain, France, Germany, Israel, Belgium
Group B: Latvia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lithuania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia
Group C: Poland, Slovenia, Spain, Croatia, Czech Republic, Georgia
Group D: Finland, Greece, Russia, Italy, Sweden, Turkey
• Why are these teams there? The top six finishers get a spot in the World Championships next summer. For a lot of these programs, that would be huge. (Spain is hosting the World Championships and are in automatically, so if it is one of the top six then the top seven earn a spot for next summer.)
• Do I know any players in this tournament? Yes, a lot of them. Spain has Ricky Rubio (Timberwolves) at point guard and Marc Gasol (Grizzlies) in the paint. France has Tony Parker (Spurs) at the point and Nicolas Batum (Trail Blazers) at the four. Turkey will have Hedo Turkoglu, Ersan Ilyasova and Omer Asik. Goran Dragic (Suns) will lead host Slovenia.
And if you are the kind of basketball junkie who would be watching EuroBasket in the first place there are a whole lot more names you know from other international tournaments and/or short stints in the NBA.
• Who is sitting out this tournament? That has been the big story as a number of teams are without their key stars. No Pau Gasol (Lakers) for Spain. No Joakim Noah (Bulls) for France. No Dirk Nowitizki (Mavericks) for Germany). No Luol Deng (Bulls) for Great Britain). No Andrei Kirilenko (Nets) for Russia.
And that’s just the biggest names, there are a whole lot more.
Any sleeper players I should watch for? If you have never watched Bo McCalebb play, watch a Macedonia game.
• Who is going to win this thing? Even without Pau Gasol it’s hard to bet against Spain — they have Rubio and the bigger Gasol but also a plethora of quality players around them such as Sergio Rodriguez, Jose Calderon, Juan Carlos Navarro, and Rudy Fernandez. Just to name a few. They see this as a tune up for the World Championships they really want to win on their home soil next summer.
There are other teams that have a shot. Lithuania, led by Linas Kleiza and Toronto’s Jonas Valanciunas looked good in the run up to the tournament. Greece was the one team to beat Lithuania in tune ups and they have Kosta Kufos and Nick Calathes (both of the Grizzlies) leading a veteran team of guys that play in Europe. And don’t sleep on France, with Parker at the point and guys like Batum, Boris Diaw and Nando de Colo.
• Where can I watch the games? All the games will be streamed on ESPN3 (its online app, if you have access to it). NBA TV will pick up games and show everything starting with the quarterfinals.