Eurobasket 2015 preview

Sep 04, 2015 by Print
Eurobasket 2015 preview

Turkish Airlines Euroleague and Eurocup stars will be front and center when EuroBasket 2015 tips off Saturday in four countries, with 133 of them competing in the signature tournament of the off-season. Twenty-four teams will go for glory in the 15-day tourney, whose concluding stages will be held at Pierre Mauroy Stadium in Lille, France. The competition will be hot not only for the medals, but as part of the Road to Rio, as EuroBasket 2015's two finalists will automatically qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. The teams ranked third through seventh will receive berths to one of three pre-Olympic qualifying events from which three final tickets to the Rio games will be claimed. France defeated Lithuania in the EuroBasket 2013 final and both are among the many teams to watch this time. The 24 teams are divided into four groups of six, with the opening phase being played in Berlin, Germany; Montpellier, France; Riga, Latvia; and Zagreb, Croatia. The top four teams from each group will advance to the second phase, which begins September 12 in Lille. From that point onward, the race to the final becomes single-elimination, though there are classification games for fifth through eighth place as well as a third-place game. Virtually every squad has a connection to the Euroleague and Eurocup, whether on the court, the bench or the sidelines, making the event an ideal prelude to the European club season. Indeed, the Euroleague and Eurocup will once again be the most-represented leagues at the competition, with 82 and 51 players respectively. A total of 23 out of 24 Euroleague teams and 26 out of 36 Eurocup teams are represented at the event. Here's a look at who is who in the chase for European glory and a place at the 2016 Olympics!

Group A in Montpellier, France

France, Russia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Finland, Poland, Israel

Nando de Colo - CSKA Moscow

The defending champions from France will look to become the sixth nation to win consecutive EuroBasket crowns and have the advantage of playing all their games at home. Head coach Vincent Collet, who may be seen on Euroleague sidelines this season with Strasbourg, guides a deep squad whose backcourt boasts four-time NBA champion Tony Parker and All-Euroleague guard Nando De Colo. With added experience from former Eurocup champ Mickael Gelabale of Le Mans Sarthe Basket, France will be tough to beat. Russia, the 2007 champion, also has a well-known face in two-time Eurocup winning coach, Evgeny Pashutin, to lead the way. Andrey Vorontsevich and sharpshooter Vitaly Fridzon are among a trio of CSKA Moscow players wearing the Russian colors, with veterans Anton Ponkrashov of Unics and Sergey Monia of Khimki Moscow Region also slated for important roles. Bosnia and Herzegovina has several seasoned players ready to make waves, including guards Nemanja Gordic of Cedevita Zagreb and Alex Renfroe of FC Bayern Munich, plus center Elmedin Kikanovic of ALBA Berlin. Former Euroleague champ Yogev Ohayon of Maccabi Tel Aviv, Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade guard Gal Mekel and Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem forward Lior Eliyahu are three of the experienced players that give Israel hope in France. Finland leans on 2015 Eurocup champion and All-Eurocup selection Petteri Koponen of Khimki Moscow Region to show the way, though he is far from alone, with center Gerald Lee and Besiktas JK Istanbul forward Erik Murphy giving the team muscle inside. Euroleague side Stelmet Zielona Gora sends four players to Team Poland, including promising swingman Mateusz Ponitka. Damian Kulig of Trabzonspor Medical Park and center Marcin Gortat are other Poles to watch out for.

Group B in Berlin, Germany

Germany, Italy, Iceland, Serbia, Spain, Turkey

Rudy Fernandez - Real Madrid - Final Four Madrid 2015 - EB14

Group B will be among the very toughest in the tournament. Spain, the 2009 and 2011 EuroBasket champion, is always a favorite with legends such as Euroleague champs Rudy Fernandez, Felipe Reyes, Sergio Rodriguez and Sergio Llull – all from Real Madrid – continuing alongside two-time NBA champion Pau Gasol. Serbia, which conquered the silver medal at last summer's Basketball World Cup, aims high once again. CSKA Moscow great Milos Teodosic and two-time Euroleague Rising Star Trophy winner Bogdan Bogdanovic of Fenerbahce Istanbul keep Serbia as dangerous as ever, while Coach Sasha Djordjevic of Panathinaikos Athens has plenty of other weapons at his disposal. Turkey cannot be taken lightly as Anadolu Efes Istanbul swingman Cedi Osman and Fenerbahce Istanbul guard Bobby Dixon infuse new blood to a sizeable and deep team coached by Ergen Ataman of Galatasaray Istanbul. Guards Alessandro Gentile of EA7 Emporio Armani Milan and Daniel Hackett of Olympiacos Piraeus will team up with former Euroleague Rising Star award winner Danilo Gallinari to lead a potent Italy attack. Dirk Nowitzki is the heart and soul of the German team, which is even stronger playing at home in Berlin, with Munich's Antol Gavel adding experience to the backcourt. Jon Stefansson may be the best-known player on the Iceland team, but players like Haukur Palsson and Hordur Vilhjalmsson should not be counted out.

Group C in Zagreb, Croatia

Croatia, Georgia, Greece, FYR of Macedonia, Netherlands, Slovenia

Vassilis Spanoulis - Olympiacos Piraeus - EB14

The fans in Zagreb will cheer loudest for the local favorites. As many as seven different Euroleague clubs could be represented of the final Croatia roster, starting with head coach Velimir Perasovic of Laboral Kutxa Vitoria Gasteiz and continuing through All-Euroleague center Ante Tomic of FC Barcelona Lassa, last season's Rising Star runner-up Dario Saric of Anadolu Efes and EA7 Milan swingman Kruno Simon. Greece accounts for players from six Euroleague sides, including 10 current or former Euroleague champions. Ioannis Bourousis won it all last season with Real Madrid; former Euroleague MVP Vassilis Spanoulis of Olympiacos and Panathinaikos guard Nick Calathes will play big roles for coach Fotis Katsikaris. Georgia has size and experience inside with another former Euroleague winner, Giorgi Shermadini, while Manu Markoishvili and Laboral forward Toko Shengelia are two more key pieces for Georgia. A Euroleague champion as a player, Slovenia coach Jure Zdovc has no shortage of talent to lead. Khimki’s Zoran Dragic, Jaka Blazic of Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade and Klemen Prepelic of Union Olimpija Ljubljana will give opposing backcourts fits. FYROM’s 12 players feature some experienced veterans like Vlado Ilievski and Unicaja Malaga big man Richard Hendrix as well as twin brothers Vojdan and Damjan Stojanovski. Appearing in the top-level of EuroBasket for the first time in 25 years, Netherlands will gather experience in Croatia. EWE Baskets Oldenburg forward Robin Smeulders and Henk Norel of CAI Zaragoza will play leading roles for the Dutchmen.

Group D in Riga, Latvia

Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine

Jonas Maciulis - Real Madrid - EB14

Lithuania is always a contender for medals and there is no reason to expect 2015 to be any different. Coach Jonas Kazlauskas has a veteran group with the Zalgiris Kaunas duo of Paulius Jankunas and Robertas Javtokas in the paint, MIndaugas Kuzminskas of Unicaja and Jonas Maciulis of Real Madrid on the wings and Mantas Kalnietis, back with Zalgiris this season, running things at point guard. More than just their overall talent, Lithuania’s chemistry makes it a legitimate contender. Matt Lojeski of Olympiacos and Sam Van Rossom of Valencia Basket give Belgium a scary perimeter pairing, while veteran Axel Hervelle of Dominion Bilbao Basket provides leadership and toughness. Latvia and its head coach, Ainars Bagatskis of Nizhny Novgorod, will look to ride their home-court advantage to victories. Latvia features a strong and experienced backcourt with the likes of Janis Strelnieks of Brose Baskets Bamberg, Dairis Bertans of Dominion Bilbao Basket and Janis Blums shouldering key roles. The Czech Republic has a dangerous squad that could surprise many behind guard Tomás Satoransky of Barcelona, Blake Schilb of Galatasaray and Jan Vesely of Fenerbahce. Zalgiris forward Siim-Sander Vene and Kristjan Kangur may be the best-known players for Team Estonia. The squad does not lack for experience and could play a pivotal role in Group D. Ukraine, which was the originally scheduled host of the tournament, will surely be motivated. Kyrylo Fesenko of Lokomotiv, shooting guard Oleksandr Lypovyy and center Artem Pustovyi may be the go-to guys for a relatively young Ukrainian side.

Country Name Euroleague/Eurocup Team
Belgium Sam Van Rossom Valencia Basket
Belgium Axel Hervelle Dominion Bilbao Basket
Belgium Kevin Tumba Proximus Spirou Charleroi
Belgium Matt Lojeski Olympiacos Piraeus
Bosnia and Herzegovina Muhamed Pasalic Aris Thessaloniki
Bosnia and Herzegovina Andrija Stipanovic Trabzonspor Medical Park
Bosnia and Herzegovina Nemanja Gordic Cedevita Zagreb
Bosnia and Herzegovina Elmedin Kikanovic ALBA Berlin
Bosnia and Herzegovina Milan Milosevic AEK Athens
Bosnia and Herzegovina Alex Renfroe FC Bayern Munich
Croatia Ante Tomic FC Barcelona Lassa
Croatia Rok Stipcevic Banco di Sardegna Sassari
Croatia Dario Saric Anadolu Efes Istanbul
Croatia Krunoslav Simon EA7 Emporio Armani Milan
Croatia Luka Zoric Cedevita Zagreb
Croatia Miro Bilan Cedevita Zagreb
Croatia Dontaye Draper Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar
Czech Republic Tomas Satoransky FC Barcelona Lassa
Czech Republic Blake Schilb Galatasaray Istanbul
Czech Republic Jan Vesely Fenerbahce Istanbul
Estonia Siim-Sander Vene Zalgiris Kaunas
Finland Shawn Huff MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg
Finland Sasu Salin Herbalife Gran Canaria Las Palmas
Finland Petteri Koponen Khimki Moscow Region
Finland Erik Murphy Besiktas JK Istanbul
France Leo Westermann Limoges CSP
France Florent Pietrus SLUC Nancy
France Nando de Colo CSKA Moscow
France Mickael Gelabale Le Mans Sarthe Basket
France Mouhammadou Jaiteh JSF Nanterre
Georgia Jacob Pullen Cedevita Zagreb
Georgia Tornike Shengelia Laboral Kutxa Vitoria
Germany Niels Giffey ALBA Berlin
Germany Alex King ALBA Berlin
Germany Karsten Tadda Brose Baskets Bamberg
Germany Robin Benzing CAI Zaragoza
Germany Paul Zipser FC Bayern Munich
Germany Anton Gavel FC Bayern Munich
Greece Nikos Zisis Brose Baskets Bamberg
Greece Vassilis Spanoulis Olympiacos Piraeus
Greece Nick Calathes Panathinaikos Athens
Greece Stratos Perperoglou FC Barcelona Lassa
Greece Kostas Sloukas Fenerbahce Istanbul
Greece Kostas Kaimakoglou Unics Kazan
Greece Georgios Printezis Olympiacos Piraeus
Greece Evangelos Mantzaris Olympiacos Piraeus
Israel Dagan Yivzori Maccabi Tel Aviv
Israel Gal Mekel Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade
Israel Lior Eliyahu Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem
Israel Yogev Ohayon Maccabi Tel Aviv
Israel D'Or Fischer Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem
Israel Bar Timor Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem
Italy Amedeo Della Valle Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia
Italy Pietro Aradori Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia
Italy Alessandro Gentile EA7 Emporio Armani Milan
Italy Luigi Datome Fenerbahce Istanbul
Italy Nicolo Melli Brose Baskets Bamberg
Italy Andrea Cinciarini EA7 Emporio Armani Milan
Italy Daniel Hackett Olympiacos Piraeus
Italy Achille Polonara Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia
Latvia Dairis Bertans Dominion Bilbao Basket
Latvia Janis Timma Zenit St Petersburg
Latvia Janis Strelnieks Brose Baskets Bamberg
Latvia Kaspars Berzins Nizhny Novgorod
Latvia Kaspars Vecvagars Zalgiris Kaunas
Lithuania Mantas Kalnietis Zalgiris Kaunas
Lithuania Lukas Lekavicius Zalgiris Kaunas
Lithuania Deividas Gailius Lietvos Rytas Vilnius
Lithuania Jonas Maciulis Real Madrid
Lithuania Mindaugas Kuzminskas Unicaja Malaga
Lithuania Arturas Milaknis Unics Kazan
Lithuania Antanas Kavaliauskas Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius
Lithuania Paulius Jankunas Zalgiris Kaunas
Lithuania Renaldas Seibutis Zalgiris Kaunas
Lithuania Robertas Javtokas Zalgiris Kaunas
The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Richard Hendrix Unicaja Malaga
Netherlands Robin Smeulders EWE Baskets Oldenburg
Netherlands Henk Norel CAI Zaragoza
Poland AJ Slaughter Banvit Bandirma
Poland Damian Kulig Trabzonspor Medical Park
Poland Mateusz Ponitka Stelmet Zielona Gora
Poland Lukasz Koszarek Stelmet Zielona Gora
Poland Przemyslaw Zamojski Stelmet Zielona Gora
Poland Karol Gruszecki Stelmet Zielona Gora
Russian Federation Andrey Zubkov Lokomotiv Kuban
Russian Federation Evgeny Baburin Nizhny Novgorod
Russian Federation Ruslan Pateev Khimki Moscow Region
Russian Federation Vitaly Fridzon CSKA Moscow
Russian Federation Egor Vyaltsev Khimki Moscow Region
Russian Federation Semen Antonov Nizhny Novgorod
Russian Federation Sergey Monia Khimki Moscow Region
Russian Federation Dmitry Khvostov Nizhny Novgorod
Russian Federation Anton Ponkrashov Unics Kazan
Russian Federation Andrey Vorontsevich CSKA Moscow
Russian Federation Andrey Desyatnikov Zenit St Petersburg
Russian Federation Nikita Kurbanov CSKA Moscow
Serbia Milos Teodosic CSKA Moscow
Serbia Bogdan Bogdanovic Fenerbahce Istanbul
Serbia Stefan Markovic Unicaja Malaga
Serbia Nikola Kalinic Fenerbahce Istanbul
Serbia Dragan Milosavljevic ALBA Berlin
Serbia Miroslav Raduljica Panathinaikos Athens
Serbia Nemanja Nedovic Unicaja Malaga
Serbia Ognjen Kuzmic Panathinaikos Athens
Serbia Nikola Milutinov Olympiacos Piraeus
Slovenia Luka Rupnik Union Olimpija Ljubljana
Slovenia Jaka Blazic Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade
Slovenia Mitja Nikolic Union Olimpija Ljubljana
Slovenia Zoran Dragic Khimki Moscow Region
Slovenia Sasa Zagorac Union Olimpija Ljubljana
Slovenia Alen Omic Herbalife Gran Canaria Las Palmas
Spain Rudy Fernandez Real Madrid
Spain Sergio Rodriguez Real Madrid
Spain Willy Hernangomez Real Madrid
Spain Pau Ribas FC Barcelona Lassa
Spain Felipe Reyes Real Madrid
Spain Victor Claver Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar
Spain Fernando San Emeterio Valencia Basket
Spain Sergio Llull Real Madrid
Spain Pablo Aguilar Herbalife Gran Canaria Las Palmas
Spain Guillem Vives Valencia Basket
Turkey Bobby Dixon Fenerbahce Istanbul
Turkey Kartal Ozmizrak Besiktas JK Istanbul
Turkey Sinan Guler Galatasaray Istanbul
Turkey Melih Mahmutoglu Fenerbahce Ulker
Turkey Cedi Osman Anadolu Efes Istanbul
Turkey Semih Erden Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul
Turkey Goksenin Koksal Galatasaray Istanbul
Turkey Furkan Korkmaz Anadolu Efes Istanbul
Turkey Baris Hersek Fenerbahce Istanbul
Turkey Oguz Savas Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul
Ukraine Kyrylo Fesenko Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar
Ukraine Denis Lukashov Avtodor Saratov
Country Name Euroleague/Eurocup Team
Croatia Velimir Perasovic Laboral Kutxa Vitoria
France Vincent Collet Strasbourg
Latvia Ainars Bagatskis Nizhny Novgorod
Russian Federation Evgeny Pashutin Unics Kazan
Serbia Sasha Djordjevic Panathinaikos Athens
Turkey Ergin Ataman Galatasaray Istanbul