EuroBasket 2013 gets underway Wednesday in Slovenia, with 24 countries vying to be the best in Europe. The top six finishers in the tournament will get a spot in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain, with a seventh team added if Spain finishes in the top six.
Spain will almost certainly finish in the top six, as they enter EuroBasket 2013 as defending champions. Spain boasts a roster full of NBA talent, led by Marc Gasol, Ricky Rubio and Jose Calderon. Spain will begin their title defense against Croatia in a Group C contest.
Spain defeated France in the EuroBasket 2011 final, and Les Bleus brings another strong squad to Slovenia. Joakim Noah will not participate this year, but Tony Parker, Nicolas Batum, Boris Diaw and several other NBA players will take the court. France is in Group B and will begin their tournament against Germany.
There are several other teams with multiple NBA players, including Turkey (Omer Asik, Ersan Ilyasova and Hedo Turkoglu), Lithuania (Jonas Valanciunas and Donatas Motiejunas), Russia (Sergey Karasev and Alexey Shved), Sweden (Jeff Taylor and Jonas Jerebko) and Italy (Marco Belinelli and Luigi Datome). Italy is without Danilo Gallinari because of a torn ACL, and they also will not have the services of Andrea Bargnani because of a prolonged illness.
The preliminary round of EuroBasket features four groups with six teams in each group. There's a five-game round-robin circuit, with the top three teams from each group advancing to the next stage.
Here's the full schedule for Wednesday's slate of games (all times Eastern):
Israel vs. Great Britain, Group A, 8:30 a.m.
Latvia vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Group B, 8:30 a.m.
Georgia vs. Poland, Group C, 8:30 a.m.
Turkey vs. Finland, Group D, 8:30 a.m.
Belgium vs. Ukraine, Group A, 11:45 a.m.
Macedonia vs. Montenegro, Group B, 11:45 a.m.
Spain vs. Croatia, Group C, 11:45 a.m.
Sweden vs. Greece, Group D, 11:45 a.m.
France vs. Germany, Group A, 3 p.m.
Serbia vs. Lithuania, Group B, 3 p.m.
Czech Republic vs. Slovenia, Group C, 3 p.m.
Russia vs. Italy, Group D, 3 p.m.