It’s almost time for Eurobasket so BallinEurope is breaking down each of the groups over the next few days. Rather than going team by team which, to be honest, would take way too long, we’re going group by group to preview the battles ahead in the opening stages. By process of following the alphabet, we’re going in the order A, B, C, and then D. Today it’s time to look at Group B
Venue: Menora Mivtachim Arena, Tel Aviv
Is Dan Clark aka the original Kristaps Porzingis playing there?: No
Hosts Israel welcome a Ukraine team minus the more familiar names and a German team learning about life after Dirk Nowitzki. In the case of the latter, if it wasn’t clear in 2015 then this is definitely when the Dennis Schroeder era begins. While there’s no Dirk, there will still be a man in Tel Aviv with a NBA ring as Zaza Pachulia looks to bring Georgia to the knockout stages again after reaching the last 16 in 2015. Italy may be minus Danilo Gallinari due to the dumbest of reasons but it will be cool to see Daniel Hackett back playing competitively while Lithuania come into this tournament with a familiar roster and back to back silver medals in the previous two EuroBaskets.
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What the bookies think
Most books have Lithuania in and around the 8/11 mark as group favourites and that seems a fair enough price, all things considered. Italy are next up at 11/4 followed by Germany at 8/1 and Israel at 12/1 on most markets although as long as 17/1 in some spots. Georgia’s price has yet to come close to a consensus with the books ranging from 16/1 to 22/1 while Ukraine are, as expected, the outsiders at 40/1 on most markets. There are no real complaints for bettors although Germany look too short on balance.
This is a bit of a mess of group for calling so the game likely to cause the most chaos seems the safe pick here. That honour goes to Israel vs Georgia on the penultimate day of action on 5 September. If you look at the assorted probabilities in this group and throw in the timing here, there probably isn’t a game more likely to influence the rest of the action in Tel Aviv. It may not be the sexiest pick but it’s a safe one if you are a neutral looking for an important game in this group.
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Your four teams to progress are, in alphabetical order:
Lithuania and Italy will probably battle it out to decide who wins the group. I’d be surprised if either finishes the group stage unbeaten, both seem almost made for a slip at some point along the way. Where that slip happens could have a domino effect on the rest of proceedings. Ukraine is the only side I see out of the fight entirely, Georgia could easily end up beating one or both of Israel and Germany but the latter pair seem the smartest picks here.
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