12 - 20
August 2023
Power Rankings
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FIBA Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournaments: Poland-Estonia Power Rankings

GLIWICE / TALLINN (Poland/ Estonia) - It's not long until the FIBA Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournaments 2023 action starts in Poland-Estonia, meaning it's time for the highly anticipated Power Rankings. 

With the start of the competition on August 12 well circled in red ink on the calendar, with the Top 10 players to watch list having been issued, along with a preview of both groups, you can now check out our countdown prediction from eight to the coveted number one spot.

8. Portugal POR

Portuguese basketball is growing, and that’s a fact. After the glorious 1990's in which teams like SL Benfica were able to take down powerhouses like CSKA Moscow, it was unfortunately followed by a decade and more of decline. But in the past few seasons, the level is starting once again to grow.

With NBA drafted Neemias Queta not available, Portugal seems to start the tournament way behind the checquered flag. But maybe  the likes of Travante Williams and Rafa Lisboa can help them punch harder than some expect.

7. Hungary HUN

Looking at the older golden years, it’s a shame to see Hungary struggling recently in terms of being competitive on the highest basketball landscape. Not making it to the FIBA Basketball World Cup since 1968, they concluded the FIBA EuroBasket 2022 in 23rd place, only ahead of Great Britain thanks to the points difference.

So, without the services of marquee star Adam Hanga, they may suffer at the 2023 FIBA Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournaments, as their friendly game 17-point loss against Estonia would suggest. But maybe Zoltan Perl and Benedek Varadi can help cause an upset.

6. Estonia EST

The hype is growing in Tallinn to see their heroes getting on the court and fighting once again for an unexpected exploit. After all, that’s what Jukka Toijala’s national team came really close to at FIBA EuroBasket 2022, being pushed by thousands of countrymen who flew to Milan.

Hosting the 2023 FIBA Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament, however, could realistically result in just a 'trying' more than a full success: without a few key figures. Estonia isn’t the favorite, despite playing at home. Kristian Kullamae, Kaspar Treier, and Sander Raieste will try to make the best out of iT.

5. North Macedonia MKD

As anticipated in our Groups Preview, this roster can’t compete in terms of quality and experience to the national team able to classify in the 4th position at FIBA EuroBasket 2011.

However, after years of anonymity, with the addition of the 2022-23 Basketball Champions League Regular Season and Final Four MVP TJ Shorts and the growing process of the 25-year-old guard Nenad Dimitrijevic, North Macedonia can finally see optimistic years ahead of it. Conquering a spot at next year’s FIBA Olympic Qualifying TournamentS will be tough, but never say never.

4. Israel ISR

The summer of 2023 has been great basketball-wise for Israel, capturing the silver medal at the FIBA U20 European Championship by knocking down the reigning champs of Spain, dragged by Noam Yaacov and Daniel Wolf.

Ahead of the 2023 Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournaments, Yam Madar and Roman Sorkin will largely take care of business for them. More or less, they balance with the Czech Republic for a spot among the advancing teams in Group A. So, let’s see if they will get their revenge for the defeat at FIBA EuroBasket 2022 in Prague.

3. Czech Republic CZE

With one or two more of their top ballers on board, this team would surely have been higher in these Power Rankings. Vojtech Hruban explained on the Czech Republic Basketball Federation’s website recently - “There is a certain generational change going on, and aiming for the Olympics at the moment is a very high goal."

He’s the leader of this group - assisted by Martin Peterka and Tomas Kyzlink - so if they want to dream again of those five colorful circles, he must step up.

2. Poland POL

Closing FIBA EuroBasket 2022 only one step behind the podium isn’t something you can take for granted, but combined with 9th spot at the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup, it proves that Igor Milicic can once again count on players who have been playing together for a pretty long period.

In both of those flagship tournaments, Mateusz Ponitka, AJ Slaughter, Aleksander Balcerowski, and Michal Sokolowski were there, and they will rock the red-and-white jersey in Gliwice as well. Yes, experience matters.

1. Bosnia and Herzegovina BIH

They have never been at the FIBA Basketball World Cup or the Olympic Games. However, if we take a look at the amount of talent that the Dragons can rely on, it’s easy to say the future looks more than promising. At the end of the day, every other group at the FIBA EuroBasket 2022 but theirs would have assured Bosnia and Herzegovina a pass for the Final Phase in Berlin.

Add Luke Garza to a strong and well-built core dragged by the Musa and Nurkic one-two punch, and you have the favorite to grab a ticket for next year’s FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments.

*The above power rankings are entirely subjective and are in no way a true, accurate or official ranking system. All comments are purely those of the author - FIBA writer and contributor, Cesare Milanti.