It’s getting closer which means it’s time for BallinEurope to deliver, for the first time in far too long, it’s group by group previews of EuroBasket 2022
It’s simple maths, 6 teams enter a group, they all play each other, and the 4 with the best record go to Berlin. We begin, in a shock to nobody, with Group A
Tbilisi Arena in, a surprise to nobody, Tbilisi, Georgia.
Need to know
Well the obvious bit here is that Montenegro qualified as a replacement after Russia was excluded from the tournament. That in turn switched this from being arguably the most brutal group on paper into a clearer one. Also, no Toko no bueno, which is really sad as is the absence of Sergio Llull.
Must watch game
Belgium vs Georgia – 1 September
It’s the opening game for both sides and will set the tone for how high their expectations can be. Win this, and it’s one foot in the knockout stages with real hope of a good seed for that stage. Lose and you’re almost certainly finishing 4th at best with a monster challenge in the last 16.
Spain and Turkey are progressing, just take that as read. The only questions are whether Spain might catch Turkey on a big day or if Turkey might have an off day against one of the other sides battling to progress.
This really feels like Georgia’s and Belgium’s to lose, even with Toko Shengalia ruled out for the host, which should have people panicking in both supporter camps. The home court advantage will almost certainly be a big factor in ensuring Georgia’s progression. They will believe second spot is possible, third very doable, and fourth might well be considered a disappointment but any progress will be taken as a positive.
Belgium have often entertained while getting some awful draws at EuroBasket, their 2017 group of death draw was particularly painful. The Lions have to hold some confidence about getting not just a spot in the last 16 but potentially a decent seed to give them a shot at a their best finish since hosting in 1977. It’s a big ask but not impossible given the draw.
In most groups, I really expect this to be just one team and I feel a little harsh putting Montenegro in here. Bulgaria are in the tournament for the first time since 2011 and I don’t expect them to go deep in Tbilisi.
The lucky losers of Montenegro meanwhile have zero pressure on them which makes them far more dangerous than their roster looks on paper. With no Vucevic, it’s going to be awfully hard to see them making a run to the knockout rounds all the same.
Well our picks for the qualifiers is obvious so we’re going to include finishing order…not least because it will help our motherload preview of the whole tournament next week
Not exactly thrilling but the other groups are guaranteed to be more fun.