Eurobasket Rankings: Part 1 (positions 19-24)

I just finished up my rankings, which include expectations and on the values of each team, after watching a few games and measuring them by three levels.

Level 1 were my expectations of each team for the coming tournament, Level 2 is their performance in the preparation and friendly games (trying to bear in mind their un-importance), while Level 3 is the comparison of each team to their opponents on each one of the first two stages (Top12 -> Top16->Top8) of the Eurobasket {jathumbnail off}

After spending time to establish what the real value of teams is, I came down to the healthiest conclusion I could get. Given the fact that only 8 teams will proceed to the quarters and four of them will be coming from Group F, it forces conclusions to come down easier. However, even if a team underperforms on friendly games, there are serious reasons that the upside of each team should be always remaining above their preparation results or even performances (meaning, video analysis or simply, how good or bad they look on the floor).

Besides that, I tried to understand how much predictions, injuries and coach changes have affected outcomes in comparison to previous events. How heavily does tradition affect the tournament, what is homecourt importance and how much can a team change between two summers

Truth is that this Eurobasket will be different from many scopes. More players committed, more teams playing, more days to become accustomed to the needs of the games, two unbalanced sides on groups E and F, several teams posing as contenders, only two places leading to London directly and yet, however, from an early scope, it has only been the Greeks overperforming over the friendlies (toughest opponent Russia, 2nd toughest Germany, which is not a top-12 guarantee) and the Turks being seriously underwhelming at every single friendly match they played. All the rest, filled with injuries or not (Russia, Serbia and France all have big problems right now), they look more or less as they were ranked before the preparation started. I gave the preparation games a 50% reliability of what one can expect from each team to show on real games, while I adjusted the value of groups E and F as 60% and 40% (in normal Eurobaskets they would be expected to be from 55%-45% to a perfectly balanced 50%-50%)

So, there follow my rankings, starting vice versa from #24 to #1

#24: PORTUGAL

Portugal is one of these countries that can probably steal a win in a weak group at a very early stage of a Eurobasket and then create problems for other teams, but not benefiting from their early win. The reason is that they don’t have serious talent and experience from such tournaments, but even if they did have experience, it would be the experience of the weak. Similarly to that, if they do win a match in their difficult group, it will be due to Turkey’s or Great Britain’s mistake combined with a good game for a couple of Portuguese players. The truth, though, is that Portugal is playing in this tournament because FIBA Europe decided to expand to 24 teams, so there is little more to say. Heshimu Evans, aged 36, led the team during the qualification stage

Group B qual. 5%, group E qual. 2%, to win it all 0.30%

#23: LATVIA

Unlike other summers, this is the least promising Latvian team I can recall. By far. And, even if Latvians can blame the coach-players relations, the present roster is all that counts. The lack of Janicenoks, Biedrins, Berzans, Kambala and Valters is more than convincing not only for them to qualify to the next stage but also to even be competitive in winning a single match, given the toughness of their group. Latvia will have to play preparation games to qualify to the coming Eurobasket and the best thing they can do now is give Bertans some playing time so that he will be more experienced for the 2013 Eurobasket, when, with a refreshed group, they will be able to be competitive again

Group A qual. 8%, group E qual. 1%, to win it all 0.22%

#22: BULGARIA

It is a pity for Bulgaria to be placed so lowly in the rankings, but it is fair. And the pity comes from several directions, since they do play in the easiest group of all to make it in the Top12 and they also have a respectable balance on their roster, while the rankings don’t count so heavily the preparation matches. However, this team looks so bad on court and this continued throughout the preparation period, that it is not a joke anymore. Strange to notice that their good generation of the Ivanov brothers of the junior years has not improved that much now that the team finally has its real chance to do something good for the sport in this Balkan country

Group D qual. 25%, group F qual. 4%, to win it all 0.42%

#21: UKRAINE

Fratello’s decision to take over Ukraine (and then lose what is probably the team’s most important player to injury, in Gladyr) might or might not be a waste of time for him, but it is sure going to be an interesting experience. He has two underwhelming and probably underperforming bigs with NBA experience as well as a few decent role players and that is all. He also has to face up with two teams that he can’t beat in Russia and Slovenia and then fight for the 2nd round qualification against the likes of Georgia, Bulgaria and Belgium. It will probably look bad for him if he doesn’t qualify against such names, but my rankings say he won’t do so.

Group D qual. 23%, group F qual. 3%, to win it all 0.50%

#20: POLAND

Ok, truth is that they overachieved in 2009, but they had at least managed to build a 4-player tandem to lead them to some serious wins and they did fight to earn their place to the 2nd round. They didn’t do much since then. And, of course, now that Gortat and Lampe, their two best players are coming from career seasons, they won’t play in the Eurobasket, where miraculously Poland has to face Spain, Lithuania, Turkey and Great Britain and needs to beat half of this bunch to qualify to the 2nd stage and reach 2009 success. Without the two bigs and Logan, while Kelati isn’t looking good at all (rumours have it he is injured too). Would you bet your money in them making it? I wouldn’t. But I think that they could fight for a couple of wins in the first round

Group A qual. 18%, group E qual. 3%, to win it all 0.52%

#19: FINLAND

How many times haven’t fans loved the spirit of Finland. Once again, they did their duty and they are always doing their best in preparation games. After all, it’s not a basketball country and even qualifying to a Eurobasket is a great success for smallest nations regarding the sport. But Finland’s first experience, even in such a balanced and not so scary first stage in group E is not going to be easy. Indeed, the lack of depth in this group and the edgy competition of Bosnia, FYROM and Montenegro to finish 3rd in the first stage might look a matter of experience (which the Finns lack at this level) but is not a longshot, as all the Balkan opponents have gaps in several positions. However, they are not a long team, they are lacking pretty much everything but a starting backcourt and at least their opponents have all a couple of good post players to lead them in crucial matches.

Group C qual. 15%, group F qual. 6%, to win it all 0.60%

Tomorrow we will present the 13-18 rankings, so stay tuned.

The article was written by Dimitris Ritsonis. Dimitris is in the basketball business as a trader. He currently works for one of Europe’s leading betting companies. You can follow him on twitter @wardjdim