EuroBasket 2011 Preview: Question Marks Reign Over Group C

It's almost unfair that Group A is stacked with so much talent, giving teams like Great Britain so little room to breath, while a group like C -- headlined by an unstable Greece, rising Croatia and mysterious Montenegro -- has all sorts of opportunity. While the Greeks are a clear favorite, the other two spots in the next group stage could very well be up for grabs.

GREECE

FIBA Rank: No. 4
EuroBasket 2009: Bronze
FIBA Worlds 2010: 11th

The longtime Euro power Greece fell mightily in Turkey, with suspensions following a pre-tournament brawl with Serbia hurting the team's group play performance forced the Greeks into a brutal seeding: a round of 16 match against Spain. Greece lost. But things have gotten worse since, as Greek legend Dimitris Diamantidis retired from FIBA play. Diamantidis has long been a difference-maker in international play as an exceptional defender, and while Greece has solid depth, there's no replacing him.

Sofolokis Schortsanitis is also out, and the Greeks will rely heavily on Ioannis Bourousis and young point guard Nick Calathes to guide the way. Some veterans, including captain Antonin Fotsis, remain, by and large, this is a new era of Greek basketball. Can they live up to the legend? The first group stage should be forgiving, but challenges await.

CROATIA

FIBA Rank: No. 19
EuroBasket 2009: Sixth
FIBA Worlds 2010: 14th

Croatia has been considered one of Europe's rising young teams, especially after finishing a decent sixth in Euro '09. But the nation took a step back at Worlds '10, struggling in group play with wins over only Iran and Tunisia (losing to Brazil, Team USA and Slovenia) to earn a bad seed and a round-of-16 loss to Serbia. Sounds a lot like Greece, no?

The Croats feature intriguing young prospects like Ante Tomic (one of the better centers in the Euro pro ranks), Nets' draftee Bogan Bogdanovic, Damir Markota and Marko Tomas. A matchup with Greece will wait until the final day of the first group stage; Montenegro on Sept. 3 is a good precursor test.

MONTENEGRO

FIBA Rank: --
EuroBasket 2009: DNP
FIBA Worlds 2010: DNP

Ah, Montenegro, the true mystery. The nation is unranked because it didn't play in its first FIBA game until 2009. Led by the Wolves' Nikola Pekovic, New York-born Omar Cook and Vladimir Dasic, Montenegro ripped off a 6-2 record in Euro qualifying last summer, losing only to Israel and Italy (each of whom the Montenegrans also beat). Pekovic was the best center in qualifying, and despite an underwhelming rookie season in Minnesota, has a good deal of promise. Montenegro will need him to be at his best to challenge the Greeks and Croatia, each of whom have NBA-level big men.

F.Y.R. MACEDONIA

FIBA Rank: No. 47
EuroBasket 2009: Ninth
FIBA Worlds 2010: DNP

Macedonia's an intriguing squad that could very easily finish in the top half of the group and advance to the second stage. Starring Bo McCalebb (who you may remember from the University of New Orleans) and Pero Antic, the squad nearly got out of group in '09 and did well at qualifying last summer. Macedonia can count its lucky stars it landed in a soft group, because the nation probably isn't equipped to compete with the Spains and Turkeys just yet.

BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA

FIBA Rank: No. 47
EuroBasket 2009: DNP
FIBA Worlds 2010: DNP

Bosnia and Herzegovina are in because FIBA expanded the EuroBasket field. There are some interesting players here, led by Mirza Teletovic. But the team struggled in qualifying last summer, going 3-5 against a group led by Great Britain and which included Hungary, Ukraine and Macedonia. Not a great result.

FINLAND

FIBA Rank: --
EuroBasket 2009: DNP
FIBA Worlds 2010: DNP

I fell in love with Finnish basketball the time that I heard of Petteri Koponen and found out he played for a Finnish club called Honka Playboys. Unfortunately, this is Finland's first EuroBasket since 1995 and second since 1977. The nation qualified by not losing to Hungary earlier this month. Hanno Mottola is 34 and still the team's star. Teemu Rannikko is there. So is my friend Petteri. Deliver us, Finns.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.