With less than two hours to the opening tip, we take our final look ahead of EuroBasket 2015 with our preview of Group D
Venue: Arena Riga
Is Oguz Savas playing here?: No
Latvia are the hosts in this one and they are joined by their Baltic cousins Estonia and Lithuania in a group that simply isn’t going to get a lot of attention in the early stages. Belgium have been on the go a while and know what they need to do, this may be their best shot at making the knockout stages for a long time. Ukraine are all changed from last year’s World Cup squad which doesn’t bode well while Czech Republic will lean heavily on their stars to carry them through.
What the bookies think
Lithuania are rightly the clear favourites here at 1/2 with hosts Latvia a good bit back at 4/1. It’s hard to see anyone seriously challenging Lithuania for top spot here so look for them to take the group with ease. Belgium and Czech Republic are joint-third favourites at 18/1, leaving a huge gap between them and the top two, while Ukraine’s price has fluctuated wildly and they can still be had for 41/1 on some markets. Estonia are the no-hopers here per the market at 250/1 in some books
I’m tempted to say Belgium vs Czech Republic here because it promises to be fun but Lithuania is the only team in this group I see making the quarter finals so you really have to go with them at some point. Take their game against the hosts, Latvia, on 6 September.
Your four teams to progress are…
You’ve got to wonder what benefit, if any, Lithuania gets from such a soft slate. Save for playing a fourth place team in the first knockout round, I don’t see a huge amount of upside. There’s no third place team in this competition that will fear Latvia in the second round and Belgium and Czech Republic look like teams who can get to Lille but won’t be hanging around there all that long. The big story in this group is, of course, Ukraine, which is a shadow of the roster that went to the World Cup in Spain last year and made a run to the quarter finals of EuroBasket 2013. It’s not for want of talent coming up but rather getting that talent together to play.