Poland, Greece, Czech Republic and France will battle it out in Group D for one of the top-three places that lead to the Qualifying Round.
Coach Arkadiusz Miłoszewski has a lot of weapons at his disposal, including a couple of power forwards in Grzegorz Kulka (2.01) and Mateusz Fatz (2.00m). The Poles first gathered back in January and then in February played in the Turk Telekom Tournament in Turkey. Kulka says the team has a war-like spirit and is eager to show what it can do. "Our form is better from day to day," he said. Our game looks better and better. The setting is very militant. We cannot wait to show what we can do in Lithuania and Latvia."
|Matej Svoboda and the Czech Republic will want to experience similar emotions like in 2011, when they finished second|
Three of the players to look out for are the 1.85m point guard Vasileios Toliopoulos, 1.90m combo guard Dimitrios Stamatis and 2.00m power forward Nikolaos Andreadis. All three stood out in the Zrenjanin tournament, helping the Greeks hand hosts Serbia their only setback. Greece also impressed on that trip with a victory over Russia.
The Czechs captured silver one year ago, falling to the Croatians in the title game. This year's team endured nine straight defeats in the preparations before finding its rhythm against Slovakia and beating them in three games, 94-58, 85-68 and 74-58. There is no doubt that 1.97m Matej Svoboda is an exciting player, one who poured in the points against the Slovaks. Svoboda returns from last year's squad and already has a U17 World Championship under his belt this summer. Another player that should be influential is David Skranc, a 1.96m center.
The French came in fourth at last year's U16 European Championship and will have designs on going far in this year's tournament. Among those to look out for is 1.90m Stéphane Gombauld, who turned only 15 this March. The bulk of the squad is training at the Centre Fédéral during club season. France haven't been on the podium at the U16 European Championship since winning silver in 2005. They captured gold the year before.