With less than four days before the start of the 2017 EuroBasket, Spain and Serbia seem to be the favourites to go all the way to the end.
The Spaniards have created an impressive roster, full of talented and versatile players that can make the difference in every game.
Although they will play without Sergio Llull, due to his serious injury, they are more determined than ever before to once again become European champions.
Apart from Pau and Marc Gasol, who are the undisputed leaders, the Spanish team consists of Euroleague and NBA stars (Sergio Rodriguez, Ricky Rubio, Juan Carlos Navarro) that will act as the supporting cast in order to help the squad dominate their opponents.
On the other hand, the Serbians look ready to return to the top of Europe for the first time after many years. Since 2010, Serbia has repeatedly come very close to the first place, yet they have come up short. This year, though, things look different.
Although coach Sasha Djordjevic has seen many great players, like Milos Teodosic, Nemanja Bjelica and Nikola Jokic, not be available to play in the competition (with Nemanja Nedovic’s and Nikola Kalinic’s presence in the tournament still being in doubt), he has many versatile players that can offer decent solutions in more than one positions.
With Bogdan Bogdanovic being the leader, guards Dragan Milosavljevic, Marko Guduric and Stefan Jovic as well as centers Ognjen Kuzmic and Boban Marjanovic are expected to be very productive on both ends of the floor.
Coach Djordjevic’s tactics revolve around the quick and great ball movement, as the Serbians execute very well both from the three-point range and inside the paint, while they set many on and off-ball screens to create open shots.
France and Lithuania can also be considered equal title contenders, even though they will probably fight for the third and fourth place, respectively.
With Nando De Colo as the best player and many players capable of getting the job done (like Thomas Heurtel, Leo Westermann and Evan Fournier), the French team wants to shock Spain and Serbia and claim the gold medal, however their mission will certainly be difficult.
Coach Vincent Collett has seen key players suffer injuries (like center Kevin Seraphin, for instance) and still doesn’t know who will be medically cleared to compete.
For their part, the Lithuanians have a deep and talented roster and want to go all the way to the end, with Jonas Valanciunas as the leader and Jonas Maciulis, Donatas Motiejunas and Mindaugas Kuzminskas as the supporting cast.
If they remain healthy and concentrated during the tournament, they will probably have no problem to reach the semi-finals, yet they have to do their best in every game in order to avoid any major upsets.
Regarding the remaining national teams, Greece, Slovenia and Croatia are on the same level and are expected to reach the quarter-finals, yet it will be a surprise if they go any further than this.
The Greeks are facing many problems on both ends of the floor and should drastically change their tactics in order to enhance their chances to win a medal, given NBA All-Star, Giannis Antetokounmpo, will miss the tournament.
Concerning the Slovenians, Goran Dragic, Anthony Randoplh and Luka Doncic will execute most plays, however it’s not likely they will be able to make the surprise.
The same goes for the Croatians, too, who have a talented and deep roster (including Bojan Bogdanovic, Dario Saric and Krunoslav Simon, among others), but have consecutively failed to take it to the next level and the same thing will probably happen this year, as well.
Judging by their performance during the training period, only Georgia and Montenegro have the ability to make the surprise and shock their opponents, and the same goes for Italy, too.
The remaining ones (Belgium, Germany, Turkey, Latvia, Great Britain, among others) don’t seem to be in the ideal playing condition and, consequently, are considered EuroBasket’s weak links.
To sum up, it seems Spain and Serbia will meet in the Championship Game (unless they face each other in the quarter or semi-finals), with France and Lithuania as the underdogs.
One way or another, though, 2017 EuroBasket is expected to be an impressive tournament, with great matches taking place between the 24 national teams.
P.S: This article is just a preview of what we are expecting to see in the tournament, based on the teams’ roster and performance during the training period. Certainly, major upsets may happen, as all bets are off, when it comes to a basketball game.