With the big one just a few weeks away, we’re going to go group by group each of the next four Wednesdays with our unique take on what to expect. We start, predictably, with Group A
Venue: Parks&Suites Arena, Montpellier, France
Is Oguz Savas playing here?: No
Reigning EuroBasket champions France, who won’t have to leave their homeland despite the multinational format of this year’s competition lead the way here and everybody is worried that they will rock through the group without a serious test and find a way to fall flat in the knockout stages. It’s not that the other teams aren’t great, it’s that if there’s one game to take lightly in a tight schedule it’s the France game and hope to pick up Ws elsewhere in the group. Basically, this is the fear. France may do a Spain 2014 again.
Russia have some problems right now, by which I mean they were suspended and unsuspended by FIBA and the players are somewhat raging about everything internally and seem to be in the right. Bosnia and Herzegovina impressed in the qualifiers but who knows what sort of a team they actually bring here…final line-ups aren’t always final…while Israel will fancy their chances of making the last 16 despite not exactly setting the world alight in qualification. Poland are solid and could really go either way here. Lastly there is Finland. The Susijengi are awesome because they will bring the crowd and the noise wherever they go. Basically, we heart Susijengi.
What the bookies think
Looking at the latest odds for Group A betting and France look good value despite being 1/4. Does anyone really think they aren’t an absolute lock? Like really? After that they say Russia in second, then Israel, Finland, Poland, and Bosnia.
This is actually the toughest group to pick one for because there are non that utterly leap out as though they are going to rock but I am really high on Finland vs Russia because someone may dress up as Simo Häyhä and that would rock on every possible level. It’s also the early game on Group C’s rest day (where BiE will be based) so it sounds like a great one to start a session.
Your four teams to progress are…
France are pretty much the only reason we aren’t giving this the Group of Life tag but I’m not exactly wild on it either. Despite their second favourites spot with the bookies, does anyone trust Russia to win a game of basketball right now? Like honestly, these dudes need to fix their problems. The order of the other three would best be described as ‘challenging’ and I fully expect the team that comes second to lose two games.