We now know who is playing where but there’s still one big decision left to be made before EuroBasket 2017, where will BiE be based for the opening round?
The format of the drsw, due to a combination of pairings and seedings, was a touch complex. So much so that the German federation tweeted (and subsequently deleted) a sample draw as its actual draw. There was also the amusing sight of normal sized Sinéad Gordon of FIBA (Ireland represent) standing beside not so normal sized Gheorghe Muresan. For all the confusion, the end result was actually pretty solid.
First, let’s look at the four groups.
Group A – Helsinki
About as good a draw in terms of fan interest as could be hoped for. The hosts, Finland, will naturally bring a big crowd for all their games. Iceland are good for about 1,500 travelling if EuroBasket 2015 is anything to go by and Greece are usually reliable enough in their own right. It looks like a legit three way battle for the final two spots in the second round after Greece and France, with the home side naturally looking to give their fans a reason to follow them.
Group B- Tel Aviv
First off, my buddy Gili will be delighted as she’s Ukrainian-Israeli so that’s a game she will be looking forward to. What I really like about this group is that every team will believe it has a legit shot of getting to the next round and there’s no one match where you go “oh they win by 20”. That’s what you want. Solid draw.
Group C – Cluj-Napoca
Most people will be chalking the top three through to the next round and it’s hard to disagree but the three way dance between Montenegro, a seemingly hyper inspired Hungary team, and the hosts for fourth should prove a lot of fun.
Group D – Istanbul
The pressure was always going to be on the home side to perform but it’s really going to ramp up now. Turkey will be expected to pick up at least three wins in this group and that’s far from a given. Serbia will be happy both with the draw and knowing they don’t have to travel between groups. The other four really are a case of wait and see, which is fine by me. I lik a little chaos in life.
Now for the small matter of working out where to go. The plan I had was, so long as Great Britain don’t go to Istanbul I’ll probably just go where they end up. Of course, they are in Istanbul and that’s a really tough call. Now Turkish fans, you know I love you so hear me out. I’m going to Istanbul for the Final Four for at least a week. I’ll be spending about 10 days in your wonderful capital as it is for the second round. I kind of want to see somewhere else in between. The early favourites are Helsinki and Tel Aviv. The former has the Susijengi who are just great craic on the beer. Tel Aviv of course has a fascinating group, is generally beautiful, and I’ve a couple of pals there. Cluj-Napoca isn’t entirely out of contention either, mainly because BiE’s good pal Andrei Britz is in Bucharest and it is, by far, the cheapest place on the list for beer.
We’ll make our call early in the new year and have a wildly over the top announcement.
In other FIBA news
Everybody pack your bags and come to Dublin in August because the FIBA European U18 B women’s championship is coming to town. I am seriously psyched for this and you better believe we are going to be talking to the competition organisers about what, if any, games we can stream. All of you need to get on the Claire Melia bandwagon. She averaged 24 ppg in these championships a year ago and made her senior debut in the summer. The Portlaoise Panthers standout is going to kick some ass on home turf this summer.
With the A championships, Crete got the U20 men, Matoshinos the U20 women, Bratislava the U18 men, a to be determined city in Hungary the U18 women, while Podgorica will host the U16 boys and Bourges the U16 women.