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EuroBasket Preview: Group C

04 September 2015
EUROBASKET 2015
Dario Saric, Croatia, 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup
Dario Saric

EuroBasket2015.org previews each of the four groups on the eve of the biggest basketball event on the continent this year. 

CROATIA

Preparation Period: Croatia rolled through their preparations with a perfect 9-0 record. And the Group C hosts did not just beat low level competition. After beating New Zealand and Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia defeated Germany home and away. They then knocked off Turkey and Lithuania in Kaunas before finishing off with wins over Estonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Israel. The build-up did see guard Oliver Lafayette get injured, and he was replaced by Dontaye Draper.

Star Player: Despite being only 21 years old, Dario Saric is ready to step up his leadership role for the team. With a wide-ranging skill-set, Saric has a number of ways to beat teams - either on his own or by setting up his team-mates.

Strengths and Weaknesses: Head coach Velimir Perasovic has a team with depth and experience at every position. The Croatians will also be extra motivated to make good on their poor 10th place showing at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup.

 

Zaza Pachulia (Georgia)
Zaza Pachulia 

GEORGIA

Preparation Period: Georgia had a mixed back of results in the build-up, which started with Tornike Shengelia sitting out with an injury. The Georgians split two games with Bosnia and Herzegovina before beating Estonia and Latvia ahead of their loss to Italy in the Tbilisi Cup Final. Georgia added wins over Belgium and Michigan State University between another defeat versus Italy.

Star Player: Zaza Pachulia is still the man in the middle for Igor Kokoskov's team, but the eastern Europeans have surrounded the big man with plenty of weapons.

Strengths and Weaknesses: Georgia have a group with good experience as well as excellent depth and strong leaders at a number of positions. The team has struggled in recent EuroBaskets to stay healthy and that could be their biggest hurdle in going deep in the tournament. 

 

Vassilis Spanoulis (Greece)
Vassilis Spanoulis

GREECE

Preparation Period: In the early goings, Greece lost warm-up games against Belgium and Turkey. But Fotis Katsikaris' team finished strong by winning the preparation tournament in Xanthi and taking the Acropolis Cup.

Star Player: Vassilis Spanoulis returns to Hellas and takes the reins of a team stacked and ready for glory with their playmaking leader back on board.

Strengths and Weaknesses: Katsikaris has brought together a team with strong depth and winning experience at every position. In addition to the floor general Spanoulis being back, Greece also have their NBA big man Kostas Koufos in the mix which gives the team another dynamic they've been missing of late. 

 

15. Predrag Samardziski (F.Y.R. of Macedonia)
Predrag Samardziski 

THE FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA (MKD)

Preparation Period: MKD's preparations started with head coach Aleksandar Dzikic being relieved of his duties 45 days prior to the tournament and replaced by Marijan Srbinovski. The team beat Israel twice to start the build-up before losing a tight game against Lithuania. MKD then lost to Turkey and Spain as well.

Star Player: Predrag Samardjiski has three EuroBaskets under his belt including the country's magical run to fourth place in 2011. He will team with Richard Hendriks to form a strong one-two punch in the paint for MKD.

Strengths and Weaknesses: In addition to the Samardziski-Hendrix low post presence, MKD also have the Stojanovski brothers Damjan and Vojdan and a strong floor general in Vlado Ilievski. Srbinovski's team does not however have a lot of depth. And they are not particularly big either.

Henk Norel (NED)
Henk Norel 

NETHERLANDS

Preparation Period: The Dutch enter EuroBasket 2015 on the heels of a strong double overtime loss to Turkey in their final preparation game. They also beat Iceland twice while also picking up wins over Great Britain and Philippines in the build-up to their historic return to EuroBasket.

Star Player: While Charlon Kloof has been a key player for the Dutch, Henk Norel is clearly the leader for Toon Van Helfteren's team as he returns to the team after not playing in the qualification campaign.

Strengths and Weaknesses: Netherlands' weakness of inexperience could initially be a strength as opponents might underestimate the Dutch, who will be the underdog in all five of their games. Netherlands also have some solid size in their ranks with five players listed at 2.08m or taller.  

Zoran Dragic, Slovenia, 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup
Zoran Dragic

SLOVENIA

Preparation Period: Slovenia started their preparations with a win over New Zealand before splitting two games with Australia. After beating Poland but losing to Latvia, Slovenia reeled off three straight wins at the Adecco Cup in Koper over Ukraine, Finland and Italy. The Slovenians ended their build-up with two losses to Serbia - the second contest going to overtime.

Star Player: Zoran Dragic will be the motor for Jure Zdovc's team as he will push the Slovenians on the break while setting them up in the half-court. Dragic might not have his brother Goran with the team, but he is hardly alone as young center Alen Omic really stepped up in the preparations.

Strengths and Weaknesses: Slovenia will get out and run the ball at all opportunities, looking to take advantage of a quick backcourt. Besides Omic and Uros Slokar, the Slovenians will not feature a lot of size in their line-up. 

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