Europe’s premier basketball tournament, EuroBasket, is set to take place between September 5-20. The tournament is Europe’s biggest basketball event and is overseen by FIBA Europe.
It will no doubt bring more attention to the sport within Europe, following on from the 2014 FIBA World Cup, which was hosted in Spain and was a huge success across the entire continent. It pulled in impressive audience figures who enjoyed the game both live and via television.
The success of the World Cup showed that European nations are serious about developing their homegrown basketball talent. Forty-five NBA players featured at the tournament, with 75 players having played in the NBA at some stage in their career.
Interestingly, the two teams that had the most NBA fielded players, other than the US, were France and Spain. These two teams had very good tournaments, with France placing third and Spain placing fifth. These two teams are thought to dominate again, with the pair priced at odds of 5/2, according to betfair, when this article was produced.
Serbia had an extremely strong tournament, but the US proved much too strong in the final, winning by 37 points after a commanding display. However, it would be foolish to write off the Serbians at this summer’s tournament. If they can build upon their performance from two years ago then they could steal the silverware.
Some upsets could be on the cards
Germany are one of the dark horses of the tournament. There’s a decent standard of domestic basketball played within Germany and, with the talismanic Dirk Nowitzki coming out of international retirement specifically to play in an international tournament in front of his home crowd, anything is possible.
Nowitzki is one of the all-time greats of the NBA. The 37-year-old forward is the all-time leading points scorer for the Mavericks, clocking a total of 26,786 for the franchise. As well as this, he is also the 10th all-time points scorer throughout the history of the NBA.
Having Nowitzki on the German team will be a huge morale boost. Time and time again, Nowitzki has shown that he is a player who can change the direction of a game within an instant. He is capable of consistently scoring baskets and if he remains fit throughout the tournament, and is utilised correctly, he should be a reliable and steady player for Germany.
However, Germany have got a particularly difficult group to attempt to emerge out of, being drawn against the likes of Spain, Serbia, Iceland, Turkey and Italy. It will be a big ask for Germany to make it out of the group stages, as Spain, Serbia and Turkey have all shown that they are formidable opponents that are capable of dominating.
Serbia could steal the show
The standard of basketball Serbia are producing, across both men’s and women’s basketball, is extremely high. The women’s team is currently ranked third in Europe, behind France and Spain. This suggests the standard of coaching within Serbia, across both genders, is extremely competitive, which is no doubt fantastic for the prospects of the sport within Europe.
Serbia will certainly still be hurting after their loss in the final to the USA, but with the most dominant force in international basketball not taking part in this tournament, the Serbians will fancy their chances. They’ll be spurred on by the prospect of taking gold at the tournament and the national excitement that it would trigger.
The silver medalists were welcomed home with the craziest second place celebration we have ever seen – across any sport (take a look at the video underneath this paragraph!). This homecoming for the players was like a mini festival – and this was for them placing second. Imagine how the fans would react if they took the winner’s title at EuroBasket 2015!
Group A throws up some interesting matches
Group A has an interesting mix of teams, containing France, Russia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Finland, Poland, and Israel. We would expect France and Russia to progress, but the remaining two spots will be hard fought – although Poland and Finland could grab the last two spots. But it looks like, on paper, that it’s too close to call.
Domestically, Russia have some very good teams competing in their league, such as CSKA Moscow and Khimki. The nation has a rich history of performing well on the international stage, taking a bronze Olympic medal in 2012, and even winning EuroBasket in 2007.
The accolades have been slow to come for Russia recently, but everyone knows what the team is capable of. We would expect them to enter Eurobasket 2015 firing on all cylinders.
Groups C and D will be the most interesting for the neutrals
With the more dominant teams appearing in Groups A and B, this leaves C and D right open. Greece and Estonia can be dangerous at times, and Latvia will certainly be out to impress.
Watching these two groups develop and seeing what fixtures they throw up in the next round will definitely be worth keeping an eye on.
These groups feature teams that rarely participate in competitive international tournaments, such as the Netherlands and Georgia. Knowing that they have been under represented on the biggest stage could potentially drive these teams on to cause huge upsets.
Players to watch
This man needs no introduction. He was EuroBasket 2009 MVP and Top Scorer and always performs on the big stage. He is bona fide NBA quality, winning two NBA titles with the Lakers, and now playing for the Chicago Bulls since 2004.
He’s getting older, but he’s still loaded with talent. It’s a shame that his brother will not be in the team with him, though.
The Serbian wowed critics at the 2014 FIBA World Cup, and was one of the driving forces behind the national team’s second-place success.
He went on to be named in the all-tournament team, and repeating the accolade from the 2010 FIBA World Cup.
He’s consistent and performs well under pressure. These are two good traits to have.
The French superstar is well rested going into the tournament and will be eager to prove that he’s still the same quality player that has previously taken the MVP title at the games. He’s also involved with a re-energized France team that looks like they could be on the verge of achieving something amazing.
EuroBasket 2015 is nearly here, with there only being a few more weeks to go until the tournament kicks off. It looks to be one of the best tournaments in recent years. It’s true that there has been some disturbance due to the original host country, Ukraine, being unable to host the championship because of the political instability in the country, but the split host model means more people will be able to view the games in person, which is great.
Either way, we can’t wait for the tournament to kick-off. It promises to be an awesome two weeks.