Outsiders Slovakia Looking To Learn


By David Hein

Anton Gavel - Brose Baskets Bamberg
Point guard Anton Gavel averaged 13.5 points and 4.8 assists per game for the Slovak Republic in their last Division B campaign

Anton Gavel knows plenty about winning, having captured both the league and cup titles in Germany for the past three seasons with Brose Baskets Bamberg.

But the star guard has lowered his expectations greatly for the Slovak Republic's EuroBasket 2013 qualification campaign. It's all about learning from the experience.

The Slovaks have never played at a EuroBasket and have been in Division B during the past four qualifying sessions.

Now, with the abolishment of Division B and the new qualification system, Gavel and his teammates have the opportunity to reach Slovenia 2013.

Opportunity, but not much of a chance, as Gavel admits.

"What can I say? We are definitely the outsiders of this group," said the 27-year-old of Group A, which includes Serbia, Israel, Estonia, Montenegro and Iceland.

"Teams like Serbia, Israel and Montenegro are just great teams to play. It's going to be a great experience, especially for our young guys in our national team to play against guys like (Serbia's) Milos Teodosic and (Israel's) Lior Eliyahu or (Montengro's) Nikola Pekovic. That's amazing."

The two top of each of the six groups advance to EuroBasket 2013, as well as the best four third-placed teams.

But Gavel is thinking much smaller.

"We definitely are not thinking about moving to the next round. We just want to learn from it and have fun and try not to get blown out every time."

Gavel said he appreciates the new format.

"We like it because we can see and play against those big teams. That's the main thing.

"We can't even think about going to the next round.

"But we want to compete and we want to have fun and give the young guys the chance to play against top European and really top world players.

"I'm happy for everyone who will play against them."

The Slovak Republic start their Group A campaign on Wednesday at Estonia.

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