|11 July 2012|
|Olexandr Mishula (left) and V'Yacheslav Bobrov were on the Ukraine team that finished 10th in the 2011 edition of the U20 European Championship and are returning this summer |
Russia, Estonia, Greece and Ukraine are the four teams in Group B. The Russians and the Greeks have a rich tradition in the competition while Ukraine are the underdogs and newly-promoted Estonia seek a good showing.
Russia hosted the U20 European Championship in 2005 in Chekov and made the most of the opportunity, winning the gold medal.
Vitaly Fridzon, a 1.95m shooting guard, and 2.00m point guard Anton Ponkrashov, averaged 12.1 points and 6.8 points, respectively, for the Russians.
They have played for David Blatt and the senior team in the years that have followed, with Ponkrashov even performing on the gold-medal winning EuroBasket 2007 squad in Spain.
A couple of players that stood out at the U19 World Champoinship last year, Aleksandr Gudumak and Artem Vikhrov, are with the Russian side gearing up for the U20 European Championship.
Gudamak, a 2.03m forward, was also a standout with the Russian team at the U18 European Championship in 2011.
Vikhrov played with Dmitry Kulagin and Sergey Karasev this season with Triumph Lyubertsy, the Russian side that made it to the EuroChallenge Final Four.
A third player, 2.00m power forward Vladislav Trushkin, has been a real handful for opponents in the preparation period. Sergey Skorochkin is the coach of Russia.
Estonia are making their bow in Division A and for that reason, it has to be said that they will be aiming to avoid finishing among the last.
Absent from both Division A and B for two years in a row, the team showed up last summer in Sarajevo and reached the Division B final with a narrow win over Belgium to clinch promotion.
Jaan Puidet, a 1.92m guard/forward, averaged 7.0 points and 7.3 rebounds for the Estonians and returns for 2012.
Estonia's 2.04m center Joonas Vaino logged a lot of minutes, averaging 4.1 points and 3.4 rebounds, and should be influential for Andres Sober's side.
A couple of shooting guards had some solid games in a friendly with Finland in late June.
Martin Paasoja poured in 17 points and corralled eight rebounds and Oliver Metsalu contributed 13 points and five boards.
Greece won gold in 2010 and silver in 2011 but fell to 13th last year in Bilbao.
Efstathios Papadionysiou and fellow guard Spyridon Motsenigos have received a lot of minutes this summer and could be important for the Greeks but the standout player for the Greeks could end up being Anastasios Antonakis.
In the "V. De Silvestro-B. Meneghin" warm-up tournament, the 2.03m forward had 24 points in a 75-66 defeat to Italy and and 14 in an 81-73 triumph over Croatia.
Motsenigos also shined in the tournament, pouring in 27 points in the victory over the Croatians.
Ukraine came up short of the Quarter-Finals in 2011 in Bilbao and finished 10th.
Olexandr Mishula, a 1.87m guard, had a leading role in that team, averaging 9.5 points in almost 30 minutes per game. He returns this summer.
Another returning player from last year is the 2.01m forward V'Yacheslav Bobrov, who played big minutes and averaged 9.4 points and 6.6 rebounds and should be a factor for the Volodymyr Koval-coached side.