12 - 20
August 2023
11 Yam Madar (ISR)
to read

Preview: Who's heading past the Group Stages in Poland-Estonia?

GLIWICE / TALLINN (Poland/ Estonia) - The 2023 Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament in Poland-Estonia is set to be highly compelling and fans will not be able to take their eyes off the action.

But who is going to make it out of the Group Phase and who will be heading out of the competition early? Here's a look forward to how things might unfold when the action gets underway in Gliwice and Tallin.

Group A - Czech Republic, North Macedonia, Israel, Estonia

Who's the favorite​?

While both Israel and the Czech Republic plant their roots in several internationally experienced representatives, the latter already proved in the past to have the upper hand when talking about short and ruthless tournaments.

This national team, against powerhouses like Canada, Greece, and Turkey, overcame all odds to get to the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2021, and the dream lives on to this day.

Once again, the Czech Republic could count on larger talent in the summer of 2021. Still, the experience stays among the group, and this may help.

Who's the underdog​?

We are surely not talking about the greatest North Macedonian national team’s roster that at FIBA EuroBasket 2011 came just one step behind its first-ever International medal, but the talent is there.

TJ Shorts could follow Bo McCalebb’s shadow in terms of scoring production and assists to his teammates, and while Pero Antic is no longer there, Nenad Dimitrijevic remains a dangerous weapon from deep.

What will be the pivotal game​?

We already saw these two national teams clash on the big stage at FIBA EuroBasket 2022 on September 8, when the Czech Republic sealed the deal against Israel to advance from Prague to Berlin.

Different rosters than today, without superstars like Deni Avdija, Tomas Satoransky, and Jan Vesely. However, two of the most impressive players of that game will be present in Tallinn as well: Vojtech Hruban and Yam Madar.

The open question: Is the Tallinn home floor going to make a difference?

Whenever we think of a Baltic or Scandinavian environment where basketball can be enjoyed, audiences never disappoint: it always happens in Lithuania, and recently the same took shape in Latvia and Finland.

At the FIBA EuroBasket 2022 group stage in Milan, thousands of Estonians crowded the stands of Mediolanum Forum to give Jukka Toijala’s players an extra boost. Will playing at home make a huge difference for Estonia?

Group B - Portugal, Poland, Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Who's the favorite​?

Having both Jusuf Nurkic and Dzanan Musa on your side makes things way easier, and Bosnia and Herzegovina know they can be carried by the Portland Trail Blazers center and Real Madrid’s versatile talent.

Moreover, the yellow and blue Dragons can count on a heavy and talented-spread frontcourt, with son-of-art Amar Alibegovic and Miralem Halilovic. Don’t forget about Luke Garza, set to represent Bosnia and Herzegovina for the first time in his career.

Who's the underdog​?

Winless at FIBA EuroBasket 2022 and without its main leader Adam Hanga, Hungary could still rely on more experience than Portugal at the starting grid of the FIBA Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament 2023 in Poland-Estonia.

Hoping for a tumble by Bosnia and Herzegovina or Poland, Zoltan Perl and teammates need the perfect underdog run to advance to the Semi-Finals.

What will be the pivotal game​?

With all due respect to Portugal and Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Poland are on a whole different level. That’s why the confrontation between these two will be the pivotal game of Group B, on August 14 at 20:30 CET.

AJ Slaughter, Mateusz Ponitka, and Aleksander Balcerowski against Dzanan Musa, Luke Garza, and Jusuf Nurkic: take your popcorn and enjoy it!

The open question: Should we expect another triple-double?

Zoltan Perl came close to it at the 2022-23 Basketball Champions League, Jusuf Nurkic did it once in the NBA, Dzanan Musa went close to that representing Rio Breogan in the ACB, while Mateusz Ponitka shocked the world against Slovenia at FIBA EuroBasket 2022.

Group B is full of players who experienced or almost produced a triple-double in the past: will it happen again in Gliwice?