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Thursday, 03 September 2009 03:26

 

PREVIEW OF EUROBASKET 2009
GROUP A                                  
         CROATIA VIDEO             CROATIA VIDEO                                        
                            
Croatia-- Bolstered it's chances against the heavyweights of the tournament by adding veteran center Nicola Vujcic of Olympiacos to it's frontcourt to go along with banger Mario Kasun and Marco Banic. Roko Leni Ukic,of the Bucks in the NBA, has been playing great in summer tune up games, he is the main point-guard for Croatia along with all-around point-guard Zoran Planinic. Davor Kus is their deep shooting combo-guard who can hit the 3 with regularity. Croatia's problem is that they do not have a consistent, athletic wing player that can hit the 3, other than the smallish Davor Kus and this should be a negative in their chances of advancing unless Roko Leni Ukic steps up his perimeter shooting. Croatia should fight it out with Israel for 2nd spot in Group A behind Greece.                                        

       MACEDONIA VIDEO                        MACEDONIA VIDEO

F.Y.R of Macedonia-- A shocking qualifier to Eurobasket 2009, beating out more larger nations. They are up against it, in a tough group with Greece, Croatia and Israel. Their most established player is 36 yr. old point-guard Vrbica Stefanov, who is the go to guy, as a scorer, but against deeper teams his older legs could be gone after consecutive days of play. Jerimiah Massey, of the U.S is also on the Macedonian roster, who can do damage in the post with his quick spin-move drop step. Massey is also a high-flyer on the wings in fast-break situations. Jerimiah should create some thrilling dunks but an early exit for this squad is inevitable.

          GREECE VIDEO                                 GREECE VIDEO

Greece-- After having won Eurobasket 2005, and having upset the U.S NBA squad in the 2006 world championships in Japan, Greece lost a tough, close game to Spain in the 2007 quarter-finals of Eurobasket. Their 2009 roster is a younger team, as key veterans Theo Papaloukas, Dimitrios Diamantidis, Kostas Tsarsaris and Panagiotis Vasilopoulos are not dressing for the Greek team. Instead young players Nick Calathes and Kosta Koufos, (Greek-Americans ) have been inserted into the line-up to go along with Euro-league stars Vasilis Spanoulis, Antonis Fotsis and Ioannis Bourousis, the 3 main scorers of the Greek team. This is a deep and versitile squad with athletic Giorgios Printezis and Stratos Perperoglou of the Euro-league champion Panathinaikos. (Baby Shaq) Shortsianitis is looking slim and trim in summer tune-up games and if he can hit his free-throws at a 65 percent clip ,he can stay on the court and be a huge factor. If veteran shooting guard Nikos Zisis can hit his 3's, there is no reason this B version of the Greek team can not accomplish the same thing the B team for Argentina have done in recent Fiba Americas tournaments, and qualify for Turkey. Winning Eurobasket will be tough with the younger players, but the Greeks have shown a fight in past Eurobasket's, to not quit until the final buzzer.

             ISRAEL VIDEO                             ISRAEL VIDEO

Israel-- Israel's chances rest on it's best players shoulders ( Lior Eliyahu), who at 6' 9" and 225 pounds, this all-around athletic guy can take over a game better than any Israeli player in the world. NBA 1st round pick Omri Casspi could have helped Israel's chances, with his all-out hustle and his defensive desire but with him out of the line-up it is up to Eliahu and Olmpiacos shooting-guard Yotam Halperin to do the majority of the scoring. Veteran big-man banger (Yaniv Green) man's the paint, doing all the dirty work on the boards and Tal Burnstein a perimeter combo-guard who has played for Israeli powerhouse Maccabi can help with a consistent stroke from the outside. A great game by Eliahu against Croatia could let Israel advance, but without depth an early exit is probably in the cards.

 

 
GROUP B
                 GERMANY VIDEO                     GERMANY VIDEO
Germany-- The national team, the last 10 years has had Dirk Nowitzki as the leader. With Dirk being out of Eurobasket 2009, (mostly because Mark Cuban hates his players in internatioal play, ask J.J Barea), the German squad is more of an inside-out team, with big men Jan Jagla and Patrick Femerling having to step up their post-play if  Germany has any chance of staying competitive without Dirk. Steffen Hamann is their go to guy in one on one play, with Desmond Greene and Pascal Roller having to step up their perimeter 3 point shooting. Germany is in the weakest group, with France being the only dominant team.  Games against Russia and Latvia should be tight ones, but after Group play this team of role players has no shot at the big boys.

                 VALTERS VIDEO                      LATVIA VIDEO

Latvia-- Latvia's team is led by NBA starting center Andris Biedrins, who will be overwhelmed with the task of grabbing all of the rebounds on this undersized team. The only other NBA caliber player on the Latvian roster is point-guard Kristaps Valters who just signed with DKV Badalona to take Ricky Rubio's spot, as Rubio was bought out by FC Barcelona. If Valters is hitting his 3 with regularity and Biedrins is dominating the boards as he does for Golden State, then they have a shot in a poor Group, but consecutive games could take it's toll on a thin roster in terms of depth against deeper German and Russian squads.

                  RUSSIA VIDEO                            RUSSIA VIDEO

Russia-- Won the 2007 Eurobasket title in Spain against the powerhouse home Spanish roster as American J.R Holden hit the game winning shot and Utah Jazz player Andrei Kirilenko stepped up his game to be named tounament MVP, Viktor Khryapa also played key minutes in the champioship. Unfortunately all 3 players are not available for Russia in their defense of their crown. The squad is made-up with all Russian league players such as Sergei Bykov at point guard, Sergei Monia at small forward and American Kelley McCarty at power forward. David Blatt, who did a great job at Eurobasket 2007 has his work cut out for him with this role playing roster with no go to guys. Could be an early exit for the 2007 champions.


                   FRANCE VIDEO                                FRANCE VIDEO
France-- Has the second most talent at Eurobasket 2009 with many NBA players on their roster.In past international competitions, the numerous talent pool has not translated into tounament success as they have self-destructed in end of game situations, especially against Greece in the semi-finals of Eurobasket 2005,losing a big lead in the last minute. Tony Parker has been the go to guy in past tournaments, (scoring big numbers), but he may want to get the future of the French team (Nicolas Batum), involved early and take the John Stockton way of thinking ,by taking the big shots at the end of quarters and  end of game game situations.Boris Diaw has numerous offensive skills, but has been passive in prior competitions, Ronny Turiaf is the only true big man that can bang on this perimeter skilled team. Florent Pietrus of Valencia tries to help him down low but he is undersized against the stronger teams in this Eurobasket. Nando DeColo also of Valencia is a skilled guard who much like Parker can get his own shot. The skill of this team is evident but the lack of big men could mean an exit against a less talented but tougher team.



GROUP C  

     GREAT BRITAIN VIDEO       GREAT BRITAIN VID

Great Britain-- Much more known as a soccer nation, Great Britain advanced to the final rounds of Eurobasket for the 1st time since 1981. This tournament will be good experience for the British team, leading up to the 2012 Olympics in London, England. Luol Deng, who was a big part of Britain's success in the qualifiers, will not attend Eurobasket 2009, but teammates who play on medium range to bigger clubs in Europe will take up the tough task of getting out of a difficult Group, with Spain, Slovenia and Serbia. Their top players are Robert Archibald and Joel Freeland of ACB team Unicaja, Andy Betts of Greek team Aris, Kieron Achara of Italian power Angelica Biella and Pops Mensah-Bonsu. Britain is up against top Euro-league and NBA talent in their Group and should be bounced early and thoroughly without Luol Deng.

        SERBIA VIDEO                        SERBIA VIDEO

Serbia-- Serbia's team at Eurobasket 2009 is a younger one, that is trying to recapture the past glory that this nation has enjoyed in previous tournaments. The last championship was at Eurobasket 2001 with European legend Dejan Bodiroga. Point guard is a key position at Eurobasket, and young player Milos Teodosic already has played in big games and hostile enviorments with Greek power Olympiacos. NBA player Nenad Kristic man's the post and is backed up by youngster Kosta Perovic of Valencia. Uros Tripovic and Real Madrid's ,Velickovic,man the wings as the 3 point marksman shooters. Milenko Tepic is their best one on one break down player taking all last second shots. Yougster Milan Macvan gives Serbia toughness in the post and nice depth at power forward and center. Serbia can be a tough game if Spain or Slovenia are not on their A games.

           SLOVENIA VIDEO                 SLOVENIA VIDEO

Slovenia-- With this nation being so tiny in population, it is amazing how many A level players, in leagues all over the world, that they have on their roster. They lost a heart-breaker to Greece at 2007 Eurobasket, and have come back to Eurobasket 2009 by bolstering up their line up with NBA center for the Sixers, Primoz Brezec, to go along with regular national players, point guard Jaka Lakovic and Suns young point guard Goran Dragic. Matjaz Smodis of CSKA Moscow and Bostjan Nachbar of Efes Pilsen are their 2 main go to scorers down the stretch of close games with former NBA player Uros Slokar helping out at forward off the bench. If Slovenia keeps their mental part of the game together they could be a tough out for the free flowing Spanish squad in a slow down grind out game, the way Slovenia loves it.

            SPAIN VIDEO                            SPAIN VIDEO

Spain-- Absolutely the most talent at Eurobasket 2009. Their front court is held down by NBA brothers Pau and Marc Gasol to go along with Real Madrid's ,Felipe Reyes the glue guy who does all the dirty work on the boards and in the post for this Spanish team. Jorge Garbajosa, Juan Carlos Navarro and Rudy Fernandez are the 3 point marksmen on the team. Ricky Rubio has the point guard duties along with Raul Lopez and Sergio Lull. The choice of Carlos Cabezes as a bench player, gives you a total of 4 point guards, and 5 small guards if you count Navarro. The only guard with mobility and size is Rudy Fernandez. Victor Claver is a non-factor, with this being his 1st stint with the national team. Alex Mumbru is not as mobile as he once was on the perimeter and Garbajosa has no lateral mobility left in his legs. I think one of the back-up spots should have gone to Saul Blanco of Unicaja instead of the smaller point guards. If Spain is in an up-tempo game they can beat any team in the world but if they are involved in half court games with Lithuania, Greece and Slovenia the smaller guards can be involved in mitch match assignments that might prove costly. Spain is still the favorites in my eyes but Saul Blanco could have helped defensively.

 

GROUP D

           BULGARIA VIDEO                     BULGARIA VIDEO

Bulgaria-- Qualified for Eurobasket 2009 with American, Ibrahim Jaaber ,playing well for Bulgaria in the European qualifiers. Earl Rowland replaces Jaaber, who pulled out of Eurobasket. Todor Stoykov and Flip Videnov are Bulgaria's go to scorers, both players scored well at 2005 Eurobasket and if they get any help from young brothers Dejan and Kaloyan Ivonav, they could make Poland and Turkey sweat in close games. In reality Bulgaria is probably an early exit unless other teams overlook their 2 main weapons.

            LITHUANIA VIDEO                  LITHUANIA VIDEO

Lithuania-- With Lithuanian star guard Sarunas Jasikevicius, taking Eurobasket 2009 off, the Lithuanian team is more of an inside scoring team using Marijonas Petravicius and brothers Kristof and Darjus Lavrinovic ,along with Robertas Javtokas in a rotation mode ,keeping all 4  seven footers fresh throughout the game and getting opponent big men in foul trouble, dealing with the different skills each big man on Lithuania has to offer. Krystof is the most talented and versitile of the 4. being able to run the floor, hit the 3, and also post up. Linas Kleiza, formerly of Denver in the NBA, signed a huge deal with Olympiacos and is Lithuania's go to guy and Simas Jasaitas is a wildcard player, that teams forget about but if he is hot from 3 point range, Lithuania can go far with all that size and depth in the frontcourt. Their ultimate destiny depends on point guard play and not having a veteran go to guy like Ramunas Siskauskas could make it a tricky tournament for Lithuania.

            POLAND VIDEO                         POLAND VIDEO

Poland-- The inexperienced Polish squad have a  tough task ahead to qualify for Turkey,but with the home crowd behind them, they can easily knock off a lesser Bulgarian team and an inconsistent Turkish squad in group play, with Lithuania being the toughest of the early games. Most people would say NBA player Marcin Gortat, is Poland's best player, but I think their best overall player is Maciej Lampe who recently signed with Israeli power Maccabi, I just think his versitility makes him Poland's go to guy. David Logan of the U.S gives Poland a nice 3 man scoring punch, but all depends on the rest of the team to see if they advance in later rounds. Michal Ignerski who plays in the ACB league with Cajasol Sevilla, could be a key guy who will get open looks as the 4th option.

             TURKEY VIDEO                         TURKEY VIDEO

Turkey-- The Turkish team arrives at Eurobasket 2009, knowing they are already qualified for the 2010 world championships in their homeland, but they would like to turn around recent poor finishes at other international competitions, even with NBA stars Mehmet Okur and Heydo Turkoglu. Okur is not playing at this Eurobasket so Turkoglu becomes  even more of a go to guy along with Bucks forward Ersan Ilysova who played for ACB champion FC Barcelona last year and got his total game together to help Turkoglu with  the scoring load. Big men Omer Asik, Semith Erdan and banger Oguz Savas are key to controlling Turkey's defensive rebounds, Point guard Ender Arslan is incharge of finding Turkoglu and Ilysova open for good looks with penetration. In the end this Turkish squad has too many holes for Turkoglu and Ilysova to save. A repeat of recent tournaments is inevitable with an early exit, unless the rest of the players do the dirty work for the 2 studs.

  GOLD MEDAL GAME VID       BRONZE MEDAL GAME VID

     FINAL STANDINGS          ALL-EUROBASKET TEAM

1.   Spain-- GOLD                  1.  GASOL MVP VIDEO
2.   Serbia-- SILVER               2. TEODOSIC VIDEO
3.   Greece-- BRONZE            3. SPANOULIS VIDEO
4.   Slovenia                           4. LORBEK VIDEO
5.   France                             5. FERNANDEZ VIDEO
6.   Croatia
7.   Russia
8.   Turkey                                 ALL-EUROBASKET VIDEO
9.   F.Y.R of Macedonia             RICKY RUBIO EUROBASKET VIDEO
9.   Poland                      
11. Germany
11. Lithuania
13. Great Britain
13. Israel
13. Bulgaria
13. Latvia  

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