Eurobasket '07 Preview
• Team-by-team previews in our group breakdowns:
Group A | Group B | Group C | Group D
There's one last Olympic qualifying tournament for 2007, and it's the one which should easily be the most competitive and fun-to-watch tournament of the summer: Eurobasket '07, which started Monday in Spain, and runs a full two weeks until Sun., Sept. 16.
Spain has already earned a 2008 Olympic bid thanks to its 2006 World Championship. Two other nations will book a ticket to Beijing at this tournament, and four other teams will stay alive by earning berths in the World Olympic Qualifying Tournament, to be held next July.
Even more than the Olympic berths at stake, the Eurobasket is compelling to watch because of the intense passion and pride that the players and fans bring to the proceedings. The title of European champion is much more prestigious on that continent than, for example, winning the Americas tournament is in North/South America.
Spain is the prohibitive favorite to win the tournament - they're deep and talented with lots of experience playing together, and they're at home. From there, the race for the six teams which will move on is wide-open - there are probably ten teams with legitimate designs on those six spots. Greece, France, Lithuania, & Turkey could all be in the mix for a medal. While Germany, Slovenia, Croatia, Italy, Serbia & Russia all have a legit shot at a Top 7 spot & qualifying for the pre-Olympic jamboree. Very hard to handicap this field since not much separates the Top 9-11 teams, and there could be endless permutations of the final standings.
Notable NBA players such as Gasol, Parker, Nowitzki, Kirilenko, Diaw, Bargnani, Okur, Turkoglu, Calderon, S. Rodriguez, Milicic, Jaric, Belinelli, Biedrins, Nesterovic and others, plus many top Euroleague players will all be in attendance in this talent-laden tournament in Spain.
We'll have coverage for the next two weeks - here's some background on what you need to know, including links to Jay Aych's thorough team previews in his group-by-group breakdowns:
• Eurobasket2007.org: Home | Schedule | Standings & Results
• Wikipedia: Eurobasket 2007 | Eurobasket overview, including past results
• Draft Express: Team-by-team roster analysis
• Official site: Competition system
16 teams are split into 4 groups for round-robin play. The top 3 in each group move on.
12 remaining teams are split into 2 groups. Teams will play all other teams in their group which they did not already meet in the prelim round. The top 4 teams in each group in combined overall record move on.
8 remaining teams will compete in a single-elimination tournament from there. Additionally, there will be classification games - the 3rd-place game, for example, could determine the second Beijing bid (depends on where Spain finishes) and the 7th-place game should be vitally important as it will likely determine which team will move on the world qualifying tournament.
Here's how the groups are set up for the first round, with links to Jay Aych's thorough group-by-group previews (all groups are shown in predicted order of finish):
GROUP A (Granada)
GROUP B (Seville)
GROUP C (Mallorca)
GROUP D (Alicante)
MVP: Peja Stojakovic
MVP: Sarunas Jasikevicious
MVP: Dirk Nowitzki