Greece will be the centre of the basketball universe later this year due to the Olympics but the challenge round of the Under-18 European Championships is putting the sport in the limelight over the next several days.
Greece, Bulgaria, Estonia, Israel, Portugal and Russia will face off in Group B qualifying games in Chalkidiki, with the top three sides booking their places for the finals to be staged in Zaragoza, Spain, this summer.
In all, 18 teams are vying for 11 available spots. The two best-placed fourth teams from the three qualifying groups will also travel to Spain.
Greece coach Giorgos Proestos is optimistic about his players’ chances of reaching the finals.
"This team has quality,” Proestos said. “Our first object is to create good relationships between the players and the coaches.
“Even though we have had some problems - for example, Dusan Sakota didn’t make his first practice until yesterday (Tuesday), I think we’re ready to face our first opponent.
“We will try to do our best. I think Russia are the hardest opponent, but if my players have a good frame of mind, they can do a lot.”
Group A (Gdynia, Poland): Belarus, Lithuania, Poland, Serbia & Montenegro, Slovenia and Turkey.
Group B (Chalkidiki, Greece): Greece, Bulgaria, Israel, Portugal, Estonia and Russia.
Group C (Sisak, Croatia): Croatia, Finland, France, Georgia, Italy and Latvia.