|11 July 2012|
|Lithuania are eager to improve on the 14th place they reached in 2011 and they will be looking to Dovydas Redikas for inspiration|
Lithuania, Sweden, Italy and hosts Slovenia will battle it out in Group D for one of the top-three places that lead to the Qualifying Round.
Lithuania will be eager to make up for last year's 14th place finish in Bilbao and considering that several players from the gold-medal winning side of the U19 World Championship will be in the team, there should be a marked improvement.
One player coming back from last year's U20 team is Dovydas Redikas, a 1.95m small forward who led the team in scoring at 12.8 points per game.
Another returning player is Arnas Butkevicius, a 1.93m small forward who played about 21 minutes per game and averaged 7.4 points and 4.0 rebounds.
Both players were in the title-winning team at the U19 World Championship.
Vytenis Čižauskas, Rokas Giedraitis, Deividas Pukis, Edgaras Ulanovas, Rolandas Jakštas, Tautvydas Sabonis (son of Lithuania legend Arvydas Sabonis), Žygimantas Skučas and Egidijus Mockevičius all celebrated gold in Riga and are in the preliminary squad of Lithuania.
Slovenia will have the benefit of home-court advantage and a lot of experience coming back from one year ago and that could make the team a favorite to capture a medal.
Alen Omic led Slovenia in scoring last year. He is one of many players from the 2011 U20 team that will return this summer.
Ziga Dimec, a 2.08m power forward/center, has impressed in the warm-up period. He is coming off a strong U18 European Championship in 2011, when he averaged 11.5 points and six rebounds.
Sweden were ninth in 2011 and two returning players from that side, Charles Barton and Sebastian Norman, are set to have leading roles if the warm-up period is a good indication.
Both have been logging a lot of minutes. Barton, a point guard, averaged 6.6 points and 2.1 assists in almost 20 minutes per game last year while Norman, a 2.08m center, played half as much but he's been showing signs that he'll be a force in Slovenia.
Italy's Alessandro Gentile was an amazing talent in Bilbao where he shot 40.7% (23 of 57) from long range and averaged 18.2 points per contest to lead the Azzurri to a silver medal.
Who will step up for the Italians this summer? Marco Ceron and Andrea Traini are candidates after playing in last year's team
A member of the Italian side that finished fourth at the U18 European Championship in 2011 is Amedeo Tessitori, a 2.03m center who averaged 11.6 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.3 blocks.
Tessitori has been in camp with the under-20 side.