Eurobasket ’13 Group B Preview

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EuroBasket_2013_logoGroup B

Likely to advance

Flag_of_Lithuania.svg1. Lithuania

One of the most fully loaded squads in his year’s Eurobasket, the Lithuanian squad is poised to be one of the juggernauts of this year’s competition. Veteran point guard Sarunas Jasikevicus will be sitting this one out, but the Grateful Dead’s favorite European basketball team will be a force to be reckoned with.

Starting with Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas, the Lithuanians will be loaded with horses in the paint. Valanciunas had a solid rookie season, but seems poised to use this summer as the springboard to becoming one of the NBA’s most dominant big men. Playing alongside experienced big men like Robertas Javtokas and the Lavrinovic brothers, Darjus  and Kristof, this will be a team that owns the middle of the floor. Add in Rockets forward Donatas Montiejunas, a young big who has made big strides in the past two years, and it seems obvious that this team will have a stacked front line.220px-Jonas_Valanciunas_by_Augustas_Didzgalvis

That is without mentioning forward Linas Kleiza, the vanilla guerilla, whose high energy style of play and competitive nature would put any team in the mix to advance. Toss in former Dukie Martynas Pocius, and European stars, Renaldas Seibutis and Mantas Kalnietis, and you have a squad that is a legit contender to take home the gold.

It will be very tough for Lithuania to knock off Spain, Greece and France, but this is a rugged team with a mix of experienced stars and up-and-coming big guys that can take a big step. The Lithuanians have a ton of passion for basketball, and it should be a surprise to no one if they fly home from Slovenia with a medal.

Macedonia flag2. FYR Macedonia

The darlings of the 2011 Eurobasket, Macedonia returns the core that came out of nowhere to compete two seasons ago. Led by American Bo McCalebb, who is arguably the best American playing in Europe right now, Macedonia can compete with anybody.200px-Bo_McCalebb_Eurobasket

Capable of taking over a game by himself down the stretch, McCalebb will be aided by new Hawks signee, Pero Antic. A superb rebounder and defender with a dependable outside shot, Antic plays with the type of spirit that allows him to make a huge impact on a team. Guard Vlado Ilievski, brings a lot of high level experience, and his production will likely be the deciding factor of whether Macedonia makes noise again this summer, or fades back into the shadows.

However, with Bo McCalebb running the show, the Macedonians will surely be a tough out, and are almost a lock to advance to the next round.

Flag_of_Montenegro.svg3. Montenegro

Coming into the tournament without Nikola Pekovic, who just recently signed a new contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves, would have been a major blow if not for the development of Magic center Nikola Vucevic. After a proving himself to be one of the NBA’s top rebounders this past season, the fate of the Montenegrin squad rests on his massive shoulders.

Joining Vucevic will be former Boston College and current Maccabi Tel-Aviv point guard Tyrese Rice. Rice has made big strides over the past two seasons, rising to the ranks of the Euroleague elite, and can be the piece that propels this squad to advance  this summer, and possible push  this team to be a monster in the World Cup next summer if Pekovic rejoins  the squad next  year.Nikola Vucevic

A big question mark for this team will be  the production of Bucks second round pick Bojan Dublijevic. A super talented young center, Dublijevic will need to produce to bring the type of depth that is usually required to succeed in these types of competitions.

While it is certainly far from a lock for Montenegro to advance, the combo of Vucevic and Rice makes them strong at basketballs two most important positions, and will ensure they are a tough matchup every night in Slovenia.

Headin’ home early

Flag_of_Serbia.svg4. Serbia

Thought to be a possible contender in this tournament, the Serbs were crushed when they found out former Euroleague MVP Milos Teodosic will be missing this summer’s games with an injury. Teodosic is the straw that stirs this drink, and without him it will be very hard for Serbia to succeed in this tournament.

While Dusan Ivkovic, one of Europe’s top coaches, will be manning the sideline, and Nenad Krstic will still be bringing his awesome low post moves, it will be tough for Serbia to compete with many of its top veterans sitting out this summer. Fenerbahce forward and 2012 second round pick Nemanja Bjelica will provide a lot of versatility to this squad, and should have plenty of opportunity to show he has taken his game up to the next level as he enters the prime of his career.Krstic-Serbia

For Serbia to advance, Golden State Warriors first round draft pick Nemandja Nedovic will need to have a breakout summer. He is a super talent, but right now he is inexperienced at this level, and will need to step up and be a leader at the tender age of 22, for this squad to make it to the next round.

It’s sad to look at the Serbian squad, knowing that if you combined all the former Yugoslavian nations into one team, they would undoubtedly be a contender for a medal in every international tournament. While basketball is rightfully far from concern when issues like state independence, civil war and other political decisions are made, one can only wonder what could have been from a basketball standpoint had Yugoslavia remained one united basketball federation.

Flag_of_Bosnia_and_Herzegovina.svg5. Bosnia & Herzegovina

Spending the majority of the 2012-2013 seasons riding the bench for the Brooklyn Nets, Mirza Teletovic will get an opportunity to remind Europe just how dominant of a scorer he can be as a featured player. While there are rumors that Fenerbahce is trying to woo Teletovic out of his contract with the Nets, those are absolutely baseless since Teletovic has a strong desire to show he can hang in the NBA, and the Nets have very little to gain from giving up on him without getting back something valuable via trade.Teletovic-Bosnia

His Bosnian squad however, was stuck in a difficult group, and should have a lot of trouble advancing. Teletovic may be a great scorer, but it remains to be seen if a supporting cast of Zack Wright, Nihad Djedovic and Edin Bavcic will be enough to keep this team playing longer than one week. Either way, this should be an entertaining team to watch, if only to see if Teletovic can bring something to a Nets team that is likely to contend this season.

Flag_of_Latvia.svg6. Latvia

With Andris Biedrins sitting out of the tournament for personal reasons (busy spending his money?), and Davis Bertans shelved due to injury, it will be tough for Latvia to compete, let alone win a game, in this caliber of competition. Davis brother Dairis Bertans will need to play a big role along with sharp shooter Janis Blum for Latvia to look respectable in this year’s competition.

GROUP A PREVIEW  |  GROUP C PREVIEW  |  GROUP D PREVIEW

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Where Are They Now? Visiting the 2013 Euroleague Playoffs

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800px-Juan_Carlos_Navarro_by_Augustas_DidzgalvisWelcome everyone to another edition of Sheridan Hoops presents Where Are  They Now?

This week, we will look at the former NBA and NCAA players that are taking part in the 2013 Euroleague Playoffs. With two teams having advanced and four attempting to join them, there’s no shortage of players making waves overseas.

As outlined by Nick Gibson of Sheridan Hoops, Barcelona of Spain will play Panathinaikos of Greece and Olympiacos of Greece will square off with Anadolu Efes of Turkey on Thursday, April 25. Real Madrid of Spain and CSKA Moscow of Russia have already advanced and await the winners of those games.

So which memorable names are taking part in the postseason festivities?

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Euroleague Power Rankings: Khryapa Picks Up Where Kirilenko Left Off

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Andrei Kirilenko and Nenad Krstic descended upon Moscow last October to steal the headlines and recede the hairlines, and CSKA made it all the way to the Euroleague finals.  Afterwards, Krstic stayed put, but it’s Viktor Khryapa’s sensational year that’s rendered AK47′s presence in Minneapolis a non-factor in the Russian capital.

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Euroleague Power Rankings: Russia’s Return To Power

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The only way to appropriately discuss the rivalry between CSKA Moscow and Khimki Moscow is to take the word rivalry out of it altogether.

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Mitnick: European Championship Qualifying Update

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From fibaeurope.com

Every player in the NBA is on vacation now, right?

Wrong.

Danilo Gallinari, Marcin Gortat, Omri Casspi and Jonas Jerebko are among the NBA players still playing international ball for their home countries in the qualification tournament for Eurobasket ’13.

There are over 25 guys in qualification who are current NBA players, former NBA draft picks, or future NBA prospects.

Next summer’s tournament will be held in Slovenia and will serve as the qualifier for the newly rechristened 2014 World Cup (the tournament that was formerly called the World Championship). This summer’s tournament has been highlighted by the surprising struggles of Turkey (which won the silver medal at the 2010 Worlds), the strong play of former Yugoslav republics Montenegro and Croatia (both of which are undefeated heading into Sunday’s games), and the resurgence of Italy, which has been in a six-year slump since playing at the 2006 Worlds in Japan.

Cedric Simmons (Bulgaria) and Nenad Krstic (Serbia) are among the NBA-caliber players without NBA contracts who are playing in the qualification round as we enter basketball’s “dead month.”

Here is the SheridanHoops ranking of the Top 25 players making noise through the first several games of qualifying. Click here for a primer on how qualification works, and click here for the link to FIBAEurope.com, which has full game reports, stats and box scores.

From fibaeurope.com

1. Marcin Gortat, Center, Poland (Phoenix Suns)

Since leaving the gigantic shadow of Dwight Howard in Orlando, Gortat has proven to be a legitimate starting center in the NBA with his tremendous size and efficiency around the basket. At this level of qualifying, Gortat has a sizable advantage on both ends of the court with his craftiness around the rim, and his sheer size and length defensively. He is averaging a healthy 18.6 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.2 blocks, and looks like a lock to make the first-team for this competition as Poland has gone 3-2 in Group E. Whether Gortat can thrive without Steve Nash running the pick-and-roll with him anymore remains to be seen, but his development over the last few years has been excellent.

 

2. Danilo Gallinari, Forward, Italy (Denver Nuggets)

Gallo has been struggling shooting (7-for-23, .304) for an Italian team playing without Andrea Bargnani and Marco Bellinelli. Nevertheless, the Italians are undefeated (5-0) and a lock to qualify for next year’s European championships. With Gallo, Bargnani and Bellinelli entering their prime with a solid supporting cast, the Italians will be under pressure to get back to the main stages of international hoops (They won silver at the 2004 Olympics.). If Italy has any chance to make some noise in the Worlds or the Olympics in the next four years, Gallinari will need to emerge as one of the top international talents.

 

3. Omri Casspi, Forward, Israel, (Cleveland Cavaliers)

As the first Israeli NBA player, Casspi has emerged as the leader of the Israeli team, coming up big time with 23 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists in Israel’s win over heavily favored Serbia. After struggling the past two seasons to adapt to the added weight he has put on since his rookie year, it appears that Casspi seems much more comfortable with his body. He may find himself fighting for minutes in Cleveland with the addition of C.J. Miles, but Casspi looks ready to prove he deserves to stay in the NBA after his rookie contract expires next season. Israel has gone 3-3 in Group A.

 

4. Mirza Teletovic, Forward, Bosnia and Herzegovina, (Brooklyn Nets)

Teletovic has been a scoring machine in this competition, pouring in 23.6 points a game. His abilities as a shot maker who can put up points in a hurry, should make him fit in very nicely with the Nets once he adapts to the American game. It should be interesting to see him play in a role where he takes less difficult shots at a lower volume than he has recently in Europe. He could very well develop into a big time shot-maker who can put points up in a hurry with Deron Williams feeding him open looks.

5. Milos Teodosic, Guard,  Serbia, (CSKA Moscow)

Over the last few years, Teodosic has been among the cream of the crop in the Euroleague, winning the 2010 Euroleague MVP along with many other accolades along the way. A big guard with excellent court vision, shooting ability and overall basketball IQ, Teodosic could definitely hang in the league right now. While he may not be gifted enough athletically to be a star in the NBA, he has the potential to be a very solid 25-30 minute playmaker on a contender. As a player who has historically made big money with Olympiacos in Greece, and CSKA in Russia, chances are it would take a dream offer to get him to make the jump, but he certainly has the capability to succeed in America. He is averaging a team-high 13.8 points per game.

6. Jonas Jerebko, Forward, Sweden, Detroit Pistons

The do-it-all Swedish sensation has been putting up a solid 20 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists for the surprisingly competitive Scandinavian team. His outside shot still could use some work, but it appears Jerebko’s return to full health may vault this squad into next summer’s European Championship. Jerebko’s mobility looks a lot more similar to his rookie season than the post-injury form he showed this past year, and should be ready to build on the promise he showed while making the All-Rookie second team.

(RELATED: Top 10 International Rookies for 2012-13 NBA season)

7. Bojan Bogdanovic, Swingman, Croatia, (Brooklyn owns draft rights) 

Nets fans should be very excited about the development of Bogdanovic. He is quickly becoming one of the best perimeter scorers in Europe, and with his buyout becoming far more appealing next summer, his rights could have the same value as a lottery pick in next year’s draft. With an excellent shot from outside and a knack for drawing contact on his way to the rim, he should be even better playing next to someone with the court vision of Deron Williams. Definitely a guy to look out for as a potential NBA starter 3-5 years from now.

8. Nenad Krstic. Center, Serbia, CSKA Moscow 

Recovering from an ankle injury, Krstic hasn’t looked like himself thus far in this tournament. He was a major factor behind CSKA’s success last season, having an All-Euroleague caliber season.  However, his potential of returning to the NBA as an impact player appears lost. Since his leg injury with the Nets, Krstic doesn’t seem to be able to physically handle the minutes or the heavy schedule of the NBA enough to be a go-to post player for long stretches. With probably only a couple years of hoops left in him, it appears Krstic may prefer to be a highly paid superstar in Europe than a 10th man in the NBA.

9. Zaza Pachulia, Center, Georgia, Atlanta Hawks

Along with Manuchar Markoishvili, Pachulia is a leader on the Georgian national team that currently looks like a lock to qualify for the European Championships. While some NBA role players are stars on their national teams, Pachulia continues to do all the dirty work as a rebounding and defensive machine. He looks to score a little more than he does in Atlanta, but this is a guy whose bread and butter is his toughness, his commitment to boxing out and his quick feet defensively. He may not be a star to carry a team to a medal in a major tournament, but he can get you that crucial rebound or stop down the stretch.

10. Lior Eliyahu, Forward, Israel, (Minnesota owns draft rights)

After being thrown into the Chase Budinger trade by the Rockets this past offseason, it appears Eliyahu has a chance to make the jump next season when his buyout situation becomes more appealing. One of the most unique players in Europe, Eliyahu is deadly with his floaters from the mid-range. At first glance, his game appears very awkward, but in reality it is cold and calculated, consistently hitting at around a 60% clip from 2. He may have some flaws defensively, but his ability to quickly get points in the paint could make him an effective NBA bench player.

 

CONTINUE READING: Eurobasket top players 11 through 25.