On September 1, a Eurobasket begins which will reach an unusual level because, if since 2011 there was a tendency for many eminent European NBA players to resign each summer that this tournament was played, in 2022 it will not be like that. Only the injured Ricky Rubio with Spain, the Serb Bogdanovic, who had knee surgery in June, and Moritz Wagner with Germany, injured last week in the concentration of the German team, will be absent plus a Santi Aldama resigned to prepare for the season with the Grizzlies, although the Canarian center is not yet an exceptional player at national team level but rather a budding promise.
Other notable absentees have already resigned for a long time, such as Sergio Rodríguez with Spain, Belinelli in Italy or Batum and De Colo with France. Indeed, players who were absent from past Olympics or World Games, like Germany’s Theis, or who have announced they are leaving their national team, like Goran Dragic, are back with their countries for the impending Eurobasket.
Certainly, the fact that the NBA season was not nearly as bright as they had hoped, ending in May to compete, made Jokic available for Serbia and Antetokounmpo for Greece. Two capital stars. If we join Luka Doncic with Slovenia, we have a stellar trio as the big poster of the tournament.
But it is also that, in the continuity of the NBA names, there is Gobert and Fournier with France, Porzingis with Latvia, Gallinari with Italy, Osman and Korkmaz, with Turkey, Sabonis and Valanciunas, with Lithuania , Avdija, with Israel, Nurkic, with Bosnia, Mikhailiuk, with Ukraine, Zubac and Bogdanovic, with Croatia, Markkanen, in Finland, or Schroder in the German team… And if we look at the stars of the ‘Euroleague, so we have Llull, Shengelia, Micic, the nationalized Larkin with Turkey, Calathes, Sloukas, Yabusele, Melli, Datome, Vesely, Satoransky, Dubljevic, Mike Tobey, Hezonja, Musa, Voigtmann, Tyler Dorsey, Guduric, etc. .
With so many stars, the competitive level of about fifteen selections will be very good. Another thing is that the aspiration for a medal is already for a small group of countries. We see five big favorites on the three podiums, Greece, Serbia, France, Slovenia and Lithuania, but we also want to mention Italy, who have a very interesting team.
Logically, as long as these six teams don’t suffer big last minute defeats before the tournament. The transalpine team, with Datome, Melli, Gallinari, Polonara and the new Utah Jazz player, the former Baskonia player Fontecchio, has two serious handicaps, yes. It doesn’t have a big base, not at least in terms of its stars, and we’ll see what role Mannion, Tonut or Spissu play. Nor any big five, which can be important when the decisive crosses arrive. But their initial group is enough to face Greece and Croatia for the first two positions and in the quarter-finals their rival will not be strong either, so their path to the semi-finals is a priori doable.
Slovenia are the current champions, although 2018 is already a long way off. Goran Dragic is much older, 35, and Doncic much more mature. They also have Cancar, Prepelic and the nationalized Tobey to take responsibility in attack. So be careful with them.
Jaka Blazic and Zoran Dragic as well as Dimec and Edo Muric are star service veterans. Ziga Samar and Gregor Glas, on the contrary, two youngsters of 21 and 20 who can show things after their good seasons in Fuenlabrada and Partizan. A long, compensated rotation, defined roles and two leaders who can win a tight end like Dragic and Doncic. How not to see them fighting for gold.
The same goes for Serbia, where veteran coach Pesic has just cut Teodosic in focus to have point guards who play with more pace than the veteran player and no one overshadows Micic in that position, nor in leadership. Efes point guard and NBA star Jokic are the bosses, period.
To them we must add strikers like Kalinic and Lucic, full-backs like Guduric and Dobric, center Milutinov, veteran Nemanja Bjelica, currently affected and in doubt, and 19-year-old Nikola Jokic, who can enter in the list of twelve chosen and who was drafted last June in the first round by the Miami Heat to make his NBA debut next season.
Another clear contender for gold is France. With Gobert, Jaiteh, Yabusele and Pourier he will be almost unstoppable in the racket, at least on the rebound. Heurtel has the full confidence of the coach and will arrive needing to justify himself. Fournier is a great perimeter shooter and Okobo should contribute to that as well. Cordinier will be the cement of the team, as will William Howard, the new player of Joventut, while Amath M’Baye, signed by Efes, should open the field in “four”. Quality, physicality and experience in abundance in the France team to dream of a final.
Greece will also be looking for him with Giannis Antetokounmpo at the helm. The MVP version of the NBA is expected of him to win important and decisive games. It is already known that assist defenses in FIBA National Team competitions tend to lower their contribution and overcoming them will be their big challenge.
For this reason, the Hellenic team will look to dominate the rebound and run to avoid static play as much as possible. But if they have to, with Calathes and Sloukas, they have two of the best leaders in the tournament to find the right game. At their side, a shooter like Dorsey, two classic attackers like Papanikolaou and Papapetrou, a great center like Papagianis and a young man who has to take the plunge in this tournament like Panagiotis Kalaitzakis. Olympus and gold are the goal.
The league title may not be destined for Lithuania, but their traditional competitiveness rarely falters. And sometimes Domantas Sabonis and Valanciunas have to lead their country to success. Also, with shooters like Giedraitis and with new Zalgiris player Brazdeikis, they have another great striker. Grigonis always delivers and it is at the post of leader that he is the weakest, even if he expects a lot from Barcelona Jokubaitis and the already seasoned Lekavicius. Shorter rotation than other medal contenders, only eight to nine reliable players for crosses, and maybe without a superstar who can decide a game because Sabonis is not that player profile, he needs the help others no matter how well the center can hit a triple-double in points, rebounds and assists. But if this group of six to seven standout NBA and EuroLeague players can power medal games at the same time, they have the points, defense, rebounds and quality to knock out anyone.
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