Poland 2009: Eurobasket of absentees?

ImageIt started with the declaration of Calderon not playing and Gasol-Navarro being doubtful. Now it has taken the form of a Tsunami with statements of not participating coming one after the other. Will this be the Eurobasket of absentees?

Russia

Let's take things from the top, namely from Eurobasket 2007 Winners Russia. Will they be able to defend their title? Doubtful since they will be playing without JR Holden who scored the winning basket in 2007 against Spain and, as it seems, Andrey Kirilenko, who's agent has already said that there is no chance that the Russian forward will be in Poland. In those two players Russia loses the most of its power as there is no equal replacement for any.

Spain

2007 finalist Spain will have to deal without their starting playmaker Jose Manuel Calderon who wants to rest after injury, hard-worker Carlos Jimenez who said he is retiring from the NT and Fran Vazquez who declined the invitation in a vendeta-type way cause he wasn't utilized correctly in the past.

Spain would have suffered more if Pau Gasol and Juan Carlos Navarro wouldn't go to Poland as it was rumored for a time, but the two players will be there as it seems now. Spain of course has the luxury to substitute the absences with players almost equal in value (except maybe Calderon), making them once again the top favorite to win the tournament.

Lithuania

2007 bronze medalists Lithuania have suffered serious blows in their perimeter after Arvydas Macijauskas and Rimantas Kaukenas being definatelly out, the first in fear of injury and the second in order to rest. Most important, Sarunas Jasikevicius is also likely not to participate leaving Lithuania with Kalnietis and Gustas at the wheel who of course cannot fill in Saras' gap.

Greece

Greece will have to rely on Spanoulis and Zisis in the perimeter as well as some newcomers that could be Calathes, Kalambokis, Tsaldaris, Papamakarios etc, players that cannot even be put in the same line as Dimitris Diamantidis and Teo Papaloukas that have announced their decision to not participate in Poland.

Diamantidis was recently operated and needs to recover and 32-year old Papaloukas needs to rest his foot after suffering in the A1 finals. Add to that the probable absence of Panagiotis Vassilopoulos and probably Kostas Tsartsaris, new coach Kazlauskas, and you have a completelly different Greek team than the one that had all the success in the recent years. Greece is given as the second favorite of the tournament, but they are still a big questionmark.

Germany

What about Germany? We all know that Germany=Nowitzki. And Nowitzki as well as Chris Kaman have not yet been included in the squad as coach Bauermann still awaites their decision about participating or not. Kaman is likely to be there if Dirk goes, but highly doubtful to go without the great German.

Germany also has to deal without most members of the old guard that led to the 2005 Eurobasket silver medal and bronze in the WC.

Italy

It looks like Bargnani will be in Poland to help his National Team, but the Italians will travel without Massimo Bulleri and Shawn Stonerook who have declined the invitation. Italy is also likely to have to deal without hot prospect Danilo Gallinari who suffered to injuries during the long NBA season.

Serbia

Another interesting case is Serbia. Dusan Ivkovic did not invite Darko Milicic and Milos Vujanic and the squad will also be lacking the services of Vule Avdalovic and most importantly Euroleague's top scorer, Igor Rakocevic. The Serbian superstar wanted to rest more than his teamtes after a long season and that was not accepted by coach Ivkovic.

France

Moving on to France. France will be in Poland with almost all of their stars. The federation is still trying to bring Joakim Noah and the presence of Mickael Pietrus is also doubtful due to injury. Foirest however will definatelly not travel to Poland as he already declined the invitation.

Slovenia

Coming strong is Slovenia that, putting aside the given absense of Sani Becirovic, will be active with all their stars unlike in recent years. Nachbar, Smodis, Brezec and the rest of the usual suspects will all be there to prove that Slovenia can go all the way taking advantage of changes and absenses in other teams.

Only absenses: Becirovic and Preldzic who decided to play for Bosnia, but wasn't allowed to do so by Fiba due to having participated with Slovenian junior teams.

Turkey

Finally, Mehmet Okur was not called to the Turkish selection, probably due to personal problems the player had during the season. The Turks however are aiming high with Hedo Turkoglu and Ersan Ilyasova having fantastic seasons in 2008-2009.

Summary of absentees so far:

Russia: Holden, Kirilenko
Spain: Calderon, Jimenez, Vazquez
Lithuania: Macijauskas, Kaukenas, Jasikevicius (?)
Greece: Diamantidis, Papaloukas, Vassilopoulos (?), Tsartsaris (?)
Germany: Nowitzki (?), Kaman (?)
Italy: Bulleri, Stonerook, Gallinari (?)
Serbia: Rakocevic, Avdalovic, Milicic, Vujanic
France: Noah (?), M.Pietrus (?), Foirest
Slovenia: Becirovic
Turkey: Okur

Americans

In a sidenote, the Eurobasket 2009 will lack many European superstars, but it will not lack Americans. Naturalized Americans are already training with the squads of many countries.

Holden and Stonerook will not be there, but David Logan will try to make the final cut of the Polish National Team, Andre Owens, Earl Rowland and Ibby Jaaber are in the pre-selection of Pini Gershon's Bulgaria, Jeremiah Massey will be with FYROM, Kelly McCarty possibly with Russia as he received a passport in 2007 and an invitation by coach David Blatt and finally Shawn Huff is in the pre-eliminary squad of Finland.

It is to be noted that Fiba only allows one naturalized player per country. In the case of Bulgaria it is more likely that Jaaber makes the final cut.