Every second week leading up to EuroBasket 2013, fibaeurope.com's undercover expert ranks the 24 teams headed for Slovenia. Join the discussion on facebook now. This week Spain is toppled from its throne.
Disclaimer: These rankings in no way reflect any official ranking system. They are purely subjective and are intended to be viewed as such.
Everything has been coming up Les Bleus in the past fortnight. Tony Parker is as youthful as ever and France could well have four national team players involved in the NBA championship series.
Spain without Pau Gasol is like the Bulls without Jordan. Not a bad team but championship winning material? Serge Ibaka's NBA season also petered out to a forgivable end, failing to shine when OKC needed their stars to step up in the absence of Russel Westbrook.
Forget about what happened at the Olympic Qualifying Tournament. This is a new year and right now the Greeks are hot. Another Euroleague championship and Nick Calathes continues to steer Lokomotiv with class.
Sarunas Jasikevicius and Simas Jasaitis may be missing from the Lithuanian roster this year but with every one of their other big names declaring their intentions to play – including Linas Kleiza – this is arguably a stronger team than what played on home soil in 2011.
The majority of the Slovenian national team have wrapped up their domestic league duties and positively, are not facing the same injury concerns of so many of their rivals with all their key personnel fit and healthy.
In the absence of some key players, CSKA look likely to be providing the majority of the Russian roster for EuroBasket. The manner in which the men from Moscow faded in the Euroleague Final Four semis is therefore concerning.
Key players from the Montenegrin line-up will be getting plenty of post-season experience in Spain Milko Bejlica of Laboral Kutxa; and Bojan Dubljevic of Valencia playing on teams that have qualified for the ACB playoffs.
Serbia remain intricately linked with CSKA and the failings of the Russian club can reflect badly on the Serbian national team with two of their most seasoned campaigners, Nenad Krstic and Milos Teodosic, playing their domestic basketball in the Russian capital.
Another team with the positive predicament of having their players come through domestic action unscathed. Once the rumour-mill ends and Turkey name their roster, the current World Championship silver medalists could be set for a climb up the ladder.
Croatian head coach Jasmin Repesa has confirmed he will be with the national team this summer, albeit because his contract with Unicaja Malaga has not been extended after he failed to take the Spanish giants to the ACB playoffs...not sure if this can be viewed as a positive or a negative.
The basis of the German national team based in Europe remain involved in action in the German BBL as it reaches its semi-final stages, whilst Spanish-based Tibor Pleiss will also be getting in on the post-season action with Laboral Kutxa.
Marco Belinelli was big for Chicago in the NBA playoffs, performing well on an individual level, despite the failures of his team. Should he return for the Azzuri this summer, the Italians may just squeeze past the first round of competition.
Omri Casspi is coming off his least productive of four NBA seasons, but this may be to the Israeli’s favour with the forward having something extra to prove when he arrives in Slovenia, as he tries to put his forgettable domestic season behind him.
BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
Nihad Djedovic failed to finish the German BBL season, as his team, Alba Berlin were ousted in the first round by Bayern. Nothing however to suggest his absence is cause for concern and there is no reason to think he will not suit up in the summer.
F.Y.R. OF MACEDONIA
The core of the F.Y.R of Macedonian squad are expected to arrive in national team camp with a winning mentality with MZT Skopje, whom host a number of national team players, on their way to winning the F.Y.R. of Macedonian domestic league.
Pops Mensah-Bonsu appears to have finally settled, appearing in the previous eight games for EA7 Armani in the Italian Serie A, the most appearances the forward has had for a team this season. However, Mensah-Bonsu’s playing time has been at best inconsistent.
Poland were the first team to announce their initial squad for Slovenia this summer and there were plenty of promising signs for Polish fans with the names of Maciej Lampe and Marcin Gortat both appearing on the list.
Most teams going to EuroBasket would be content with boasting one NBA player. Not Sweden. They are going all out and bringing both their NBA stars in Jonas Jerebko and Jeffery Taylor. This could be one of the best Swedish teams in history.
Petteri Koponen has been big in the VTB quarters for Khimik, evening the ledger against the fact that Sasu Salin was unable to take Olimpija past Krka in the Slovenian League finals. Drop on account of Poland and Sweden climbing.
Ukraine’s large Azovmash contingent are getting plenty of post-season game time under their belts, having made it all the way to the Superleague gold medal series where they are taking on Budivelnik. The series is tied 1-1.
Czech small forward Pavel Pumprla’s fairytale first season playing outside of his native country is set to continue with Blusens Monbus miraculously making the ACB playoffs in their first season back in the comp, with Pumprla averaging 21.6 minutes an outing.
Giorgi Shermadini reminded us all of the threat he will be in Slovenia this summer, coming up with key possessions for Olympiacos at the right time as they surged back from the jaws of defeat to become back-to-back Euroleague champions.
Both of Belgium’s Spanish-based players, Axel Hervelle and Sam Van Rossom, will be participating in the ACB play-offs, playing for Uxue Bilbao Basket and CAI Zaragoza respectively. However, other teams have made bigger strides in the past fortnight.
VEF Riga – Latvia’s reigning domestic champions – were unceremoniously dumped out of the VTB League at the quarter-final stage with three heavy defeats at the hands of Khimki. Not helped by national team regular Kaspars Berzins being injured.