The 2013 FIBA Eurobasket is upon us, beginning today in Slovenia. Which NBA stars will dominate the tournament? Which Europeans will burst onto the NBA scene? Who will earn the right to challenge Team USA in next summer’s inaugural World Cup? We have all that for you, and more.
The most prestigious continental basketball competition in the world, this year’s competition will feature 24 teams competing for 6 berths to the inaugural 2014 Basketball World Cup in Spain next summer. (It is inaugural only because it used to be called the World Championship.)
There are 27 active NBA players participating, plus a bunch more whose draft rights are held by NBA teams.
The 24 teams will be split into four groups of six, playing each team in their group in a round robin. The top three teams in each group will advance to the second round, where the 12 remaining teams will be split into two groups of six, who will again play each other in a round robin. After the second stage, the top 4 teams in each group will move on to the quarterfinals, where a one-and-done tournament will take place to determine the champions, as well as the 3rd, 5th and 7th place teams.
Since Spain has automatically qualified for the World Cup as the host, the 7th place winner at Eurobasket ’13 (with the assumption that Spain finishes in the top 6), will get the last remaining automatic berth for the World Cup.
While many NBA stars such as Pau Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki, Joakim Noah and Andrei Kirilenko have decided to sit this summer out, this tournament is loaded with both NBA players and high level European players. Most European countries take a great deal of pride in the performance of their national teams, whose players have typically grown up playing together on junior national teams as well, and each team will be leaving everything on the floor for their friends, family and countrymen. Playing at this level with a national team is considered an incredibly prestigious honor in European basketball circles, and this surely will be demonstrated by the level of intensity that will be seen in this year’s games.
Spain decided to send a team to defend its Gold Medal, despite already having an automatic berth for the World Cup. While Team USA doesn’t put much emphasis on the FIBA Americas Championship, abstaining from sending a team because they have an automatic berth, the Spaniards take pride in their dominance of the international basketball scene, and they have opted to send a very strong team for the sole purpose of continuing the tradition they have worked so hard to build over the last decade.
With a strong 24-team pool, and only 6 spots remaining, earning a berth to the World Cup will be no walk in the park. Who will gain the momentum that will be required to earn a trip to Spain next summer? Continue reading to look at a breakdown of who is likely to advance out of each of the four groups in this year’s Eurobasket.