As just nine days remain until Eurobasket 2011 tips off in Lithuania, BallinEurope today takes a look back at the performances of the two dozen teams slated to compete in the big tournament and deploys some good old power rankings – and lotsa highlight clips from friendlies and tourneys played throughout The Continent.
Once again, a reminder to readers: These ratings are based only on how the teams are trending and are no indication of prognostication for Eurobasket. (The BallinEurope Fearless Predictions™ will be released soon enough…)
1. Spain – Yes, they lost to Lithuania in the grand opening of Kauno Arena, but BiE is sticking with Team Spain in the top spot. As defending Eurobasket champions, this team is chasing history and public perception has them on the rise, i.e. “El rival de España en el Eurobasket es España.” Plus, the side got back on track in tournament warmups, dispatching Slovenia on Sunday despite shooting 2-of-10 on threes and under 66% (21-of-32) from the free-throw line.
2. Greece – What controversy? Team Greece is up to their old tricks in European play – with or without Ioannis Bourousis and Sofoklis Schortsanitis – going 3-0 at the BEKO Supercup tournament over Turkey, Belgium and Germany; earning a like mark against Russia, Israel and Poland in the European Basketball Tour 2011 in Cyprus; and finishing 2-1 in the Trofeo Tassoni against Bosnia & Herzegovina, Italy and Poland. This is an interesting Greek team, with more of an emphasis on speed than in recent years, but they look just as good early on.