31 August, 2017
17 September
11 Goran DRAGIĆ (Slovenia)
to read

Power Rankings update: Injuries killing mood, but not podium aspirations

MUNICH (FIBA EuroBasket 2017) - Two more weeks have passed since the last Power Rankings. Preparation games are in full flow, time for us to track the movers!






Not the start to August Spain had in mind. Sergio Llull went down with a horrid knee injury, and Spain suffered a tough loss to Belgium. Luckily for Sergio Scariolo, depth is one of the biggest strengths of this team, Alex Abrines and Juan Carlos Navarro will probably see more minutes with Llull gone.


How many other teams do you know that could get wins of +58 and +28 against FIBA EuroBasket 2017 participants? In just two days!? Greece are obviously playing with something to prove. Big game coming up for them on August 11 against Serbia in Belgrade, that will be a true test of their power. 

  Simonovic down and out, Nedovic having trouble with his shoulder, Raduljica also not 100 percent...and keep in mind that tattooed giant Miroslav was their leading scorer in Rio 2016. But as long as those injured aren't anybody called "Teodosic" or "Bogdanovic", Serbia can keep their hopes high. And more of the same will come pretty soon, believe me...

Bojan Bogdanovic said that all the withdrawal drama made Croatia - stronger. He obviously knows what he's talking about. Just ask France and Lithuania, the teams that Bogdanovic and Saric defeated in Orleans in back-to-back games. Babo and Sisi, Bogie and Homie, Bojan and Dario, whatever you call them, they are one of the best one-two punches out there.

It's nothing to give Jonas Valanciunas' beard some grey hairs, but defeats to Georgia and this team above them are a wake up call for Lithuania. Especially since Georgia will be one of the teams they meet in Group B. But still, we are talking about runners-up at the last two FIBA EuroBaskets, they will be at their best when it matters most. Right? Right?? 

Don't look now, but Slovenia might have a new superhero superstar. Luka Doncic was their best scorer in all three preparation wins, and there is one thing we need to ask him once he gets to FIBA EuroBasket 2017. Why is he wearing number 77!? I'm guessing it's because Prepelic has had his lucky number 7 for awhile now... So if 7 is luck, is 77 double luck? 

Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot was the only true small forward France called up, and now he is also out with an injury. France showed defensive weaknesses, allowing Croatia to put up 92 points on the scoreboard in Orleans, and in a group with Doncic and Antetokounmpo, defense will be put to test a lot of times. A LOT.

Don't pay too much attention to this fall. Turkey blew out Switzerland by 29, but haven't played since. Now they will have a hectic schedule with five preparation games all over Europe in eight days. No matter what happens, you know there will be some 13 to 16 thousand reasons to be afraid of Turkey in September. I can already hear that chant starting... *clap clap clap*

Georgia have been on the rise since day one of the training camp, and their wins over Lithuania and Latvia make you think they could easily get to the Quarter-Finals. Sakartvelo basketball philosophy is so easy to understand, explained here by Toko Shengelia and Mike Dixon. Best result at FIBA EuroBasket so far? 11th place in 2011. That could all change soon.


Isn't it ironic? Don't you think? Well, it's not like rain on your wedding day or a free ride when you've already paid, but after Danilo Gallinari threw that mighty right hook of his, it was the Italians who took the fall... They are still performing well in preparation games, but that's 17.9 points per game they have to make up for, compared to FIBA EuroBasket 2015. 


Bad news? Latvia have lost three games, all three of them by four points. Good news? Even without Kristaps Porzingis in those duels, they were still able to be competitive against FIBA EuroBasket 2017 participants. Great news? YOU HAVE KRISTAPS PORZINGIS IN YOUR SQUAD, IT'S LIKE YOU'RE GERMANY IN THE EARLY 2000s!


Montenegro remain a mystery. They haven't played a single game yet, but on August 12 their busy schedule commences, with five games in eight days. Can't wait to see them out there, with Bogdan Tanjevic calling plays for Tyrese Rice, Bojan Dubljevic and Nikola Vucevic, their basketball could be...well, romantic. Easy to fall in love with. Oh, and if you understand Montenegrin, Vlado Mihailovic's tweets are on 🔥🔥


Excitement starting to evolve into euphoria for Israel. The hosts of Group B have connected four wins, and yes, that was a Connect Four pun. With the team improving their confidence before stepping out in front of their fans, one could see Israel challenge Lithuania, Georgia and Italy for the top spot of the group.


Czech Republic will be without four of their five starters from their FIBA EuroBasket 2015 Quarter-Finals ride. But Tomas Satoransky will try to see them out of Group C, a 34-point win over group rivals Hungary was their way of sending a message. Message delivered! 


Arguably the feel-good story of the preparation games. Poland will have trouble on the inside, but Mateusz Ponitka will do the damage on the outside against any opponent. Poland have collected wins over Czech Republic twice and Latvia once, and suffered just a one-point loss to Lithuania. With Finland struggling a scroll later, Poland will try and steal a spot in the Round of 16.


Belgium demolished Spain by 18. In Spain. Why add anything?


Belgium's rise could be Russia's downfall. A win over Finland and a defeat to Israel is the summary of their preparation games so far, without Sergey Karasev it will be tough to find buckets. And then again, Alexey Shved has been playing out of his mind, he could single-handedly take them out of the group.


The hosts of Group A will be the first to tell you that the final score is the least important thing in the preparation period. Finland have lost all four of their games so far, with Poland rising, and Greece, Slovenia and France also in the group, Susijengi could have a hard time advancing to the Round of 16 if their preparation game worries translate to FIBA EuroBasket 2017.


Similar to Montenegro, the Germans have been resting in their first fortnight of training camp. Just a single defeat to Belgium. But no team will play more games over the next nine days - Dennis Schroder and Co. will take to the court SIX times. That's about the tempo that FIBA EuroBasket 2017 will have, meaning the Germans will arrive to Israel with their game face on.


Defeats to FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 European Pre-Qualifiers participants Belarus and the Netherlands might have been tough, but a +34 win over Romania will bring some much needed joy into the Ukraine camp. Another Group B member, it seems that everybody can beat everyone in this group. Meaning - Ukraine could be a Round of 16 team, just like Lithuania, Italy, Israel, Georgia and Germany...


Great Britain have defeated Ukraine, but they were blown out once they tested Greece. They need some of Belgium's medicine to find at least two wins and advance to the elimination phase. There is, however, reason for optimism. The U20 and U18 teams have won promotion to Division A for next summer, giving British basketball a new gust of wind. Sail on, Team GB, great things will come!


A couple of wins against Slovak Republic were nice to see for Hungary basketball fans, but they were nowhere near Slovenia (-20) and Czech Republic (-34) in the games that followed. The Hungarians need to check the Czechs out of Romania and reach for the checkered flag faster than Czech Republic if they want to catch the Round of 16. 


Hard to see Iceland moving when they haven't played any games since their Belgium matchups in late July...


The team with the most preparation games played so far - eight - might be losing the fixtures, but Romania are gaining a lot of experience. Their sole win was against Tunisia, they need to up the tempo against European opposition if they want to be more than just hosts in September. If they do want it, if they squeeze a couple of wins in, they have a shot of reaching the Round of 16. So, 20 days to find the recipe...

*The power rankings are entirely subjective and is in no way a true, accurate ranking systems. All comments are purely those of the author.