Eurobasket 2013 will still be a celebration of European basketball, but minus a lot of star names.
Not just from the NBA either.
Serbia’s Milos Teodosic could possibly be the latest absentee from September’s tournament in Slovenia after his calf injury, picked up in a VTB League game in late-May hasn’t healed as quickly as coach Dusan Ivkovic had hoped for, and the veteran playcaller is sweating on the point guard’s fitness.
Serbia have begun training camp in Belgrade, but of course without their leader.
Over the last couple of months, this has been a recurring theme. The lure of representing your country at a major European tournament has been replaced with personal training programmes in readiness for next season, choosing to rest or simply calling it a day from the international stage. Of course, you can never count out injury problems as well.
And in the build-up to Eurobasket 2013 a lot of players are all of the above.
Here is the growing list of notable Slovenia no-shows. Going in order of what groups they are in.
Players that are underlined, and with a question mark are recovering from injury and are not 100 percent out of the tournament.
France: Ronny Turiaf, Joakim Noah, Ian Mahinmi, Ali Traore, Kevin Seraphin, Rudy Gobert.
Germany: Dirk Nowitzki, Chris Kaman.
Great Britain: Luol Deng, Joel Freeland.
Israel: Gal Mekel.
Ukraine: Nothing made public.
Belgium: Nothing made public.
Serbia: Milan Macvan, Dusko Savanovic, Zoran Erceg, Novica Velickovic, Milos Teodosic?
Lithuania: Paulius Jankunas, Sarunas Jasikevicius.
Montenegro: Marko Todorovic?
Bosnia & Herzegovina: Nothing made public.
Latvia: Andris Biedrins.
FYR of Macedonia: Nothing made public.
Spain: Pau Gasol, Juan Carlos Navarro, Serge Ibaka.
Slovenia: Beno Udrih, Erazem Lorbek.
Czech Republic: Nothing made public.
Croatia: Zoran Planinic, Marko Popovic.
Georgia: Zaza Pachulia, Tornike Shengelia.
Poland: Marcin Gortat?
Russia: Andrei Kirilenko, Sasha Kaun, Timofey Mozgov, Viktor Khryapa.
Greece: Kostas Koufos, Nick Calathes, Sofocles Schortsianitis.
Turkey: Enes Kanter.
Italy: Danilo Gallinari.
Sweden: Nothing made public.
Finland: Nothing made public.
Those are the names so far that are confirmed. Yes, there are a few that were missed from their respective nations, but these players above are major contributors in most departments. The Eurobasket MVP from 2011 Juan Carlos Navarro will not travel to Slovenia with Spain as well as the 2009 MVP Pau Gasol. Jose Calderon and Ricky Rubio will lead the holders this time around, but it’s still a squad that doesn’t strike fear into the hearts of other teams like it did back at the last two Eurobaskets.
Russia are a mess right now, but when it looks like you’re down and out, you come back stronger. Hopefully the chaos happening off the court won’t be the same on the court. The ladies’ side didn’t fare too well in June at Eurobasket Women, exiting in the first round with defeats to Sweden and eventual winners Spain proving their undoing.
Despite the problems, and the absence of their big names, the Russian side that jets off to Slovenia will be eager to prove critics wrong. They will play with nothing to lose, and when you back someone in a corner, they will come out fighting.
France will literally be minus big men at Eurobasket, but should still get out of Group A unscathed. Johan Petro, a last minute call-up to replace Ronny Turiaf will be under pressure to perform, as Boris Diaw will possibly look to play out of position.
The French, runners-up two years ago still have a talented backcourt, led by Tony Parker, Nicolas Batum and Nando De Colo, and I’m sure those three especially will be able to handle the increased pressure to perform in the absence of Turiaf, Ali Traore and Rudy Gobert and qualify for the FIBA World Cup next year.
The hosts Slovenia will be without their veteran forward Erazem Lorbek, as he recovers from a ongoing knee injury and were let down by Beno Udrih, who is becoming more hated than Sasha Vujacic, the one difference is at least Vujacic has openly said he won’t play for Slovenia, unlike Udrih who looked certain to play internationally for the first time since the 2006 world championships, only to make a dramatic U-turn and change his mind.
These three nations mentioned will have eager and hungry players looking to make the grade and prove they belong on this stage. Mainly the newcomers and the youth that make the fabric of the teams mentioned will look to steer these nations in the right direction.
For the hosts, 23-year-old Jaka Blazic will look to follow in the footsteps of the retiring Jaka Lakovic and announce his arrival on the international stage. Having enjoyed a great Euroleague regular season with Union Olimpija Ljubljana, averaging 12 points in 10 games, Blazic has now moved to Belgrade this off-season, where he will play for Crvena Zvezda Red Star. He’ll bring a quick, smart-thinking shooting guard that can also play the point. Still a few minor details of his game to iron out offensively, but defensively, he is aggressive and can hold his own against the best.
New Banvit recruit Klemen Prepelic will look to make the nation of Slovenia proud as he also enters his first senior tournament. He last appeared in a green vest at last year’s U20 European Championships, averaging 16.3 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.9 assists. If he does that this September, which he is confidently able to, the future of Slovenian basketball, along with Gaspar Vidmar, Blazic and company will be fine.
France have some exciting prospects for the next few years, in particular, young center Mouhammadou Jaiteh is a promising player, that might board the plane to Slovenia in September. His cause ha been helped with the amount of absentees at his position. He will get his first taste of Euroleague basketball this upcoming season as Jeiteh has recently signed for newcomers Nanterres. Other players up for consideration include Johan Passave-Ductell and Michel Jean-Baptiste-Adolphe. All three are on standby at the moment, but it seems a matter of time before they’re called to training camp.
Pau Gasol, Nikola Mirotic and Ibaka are missing from Spain coach Juan Orenga’s roster but promising upstarts German Gabriel and Pablo Aguilar are heading Eurobasket with confidence but a lot of weight on their shoulders. The two-time Eurobasket champions expect nothing but gold, Minnesota’s Ricky Rubio has even said that, but a lot of people are starting to doubt the Olympic silver medallists. Expect them to be in the mix when the tournament goes to the Arena Stozice for the final rounds.
This occurs for all teams missing big-name players though. This will be a chance to the future to shine early, question is: who will step up and get their name recognized?
Eurobasket will be that opportunity.