by Chris Gehring
Basketball is close. Wizards training camp is less than a month away, and the buzz of a new NBA season started practically as the last one came to a close. We’re all ready for another season of hoops here in the states, but fans abroad have an even shorter wait. Eurobasket 2017 tips off Thursday across the countries of Finland, Isreal, Romania and Turkey.
For Wizards guard Tomas Satoransky, tournament play starts Friday as his native Czech Republic takes on Romania in Cluj-Napoca. Sato leads this years Czech team into Eurobasket alongside former NBA guard Jiri Welsch in a tough Group C that includes European powerhouse Spain.
We’ll keep the updates coming as the tournament rolls along, but let’s get set for some offseason hoops with a quick look at what Satoransky and the Czechs will be up against in the group stage. To advance out of the group and into the knockout stage, they will need to finish in the top four of their group of six.
Czech Republic’s Group C Schedule
(All games available on WatchESPN)
Friday, Sept. 1 vs. Romania – 1:30pm ET
Romania doesn’t enter the tournament with an official world basketball ranking (the Czechs enter Eurobasket at No. 42). 2017 marks the Romanians’ first appearance in Eurobasket since 1987 and their 18th in the country’s history.
Saturday, Sept. 2 vs. Spain – 10:45am ET
The team to beat in Eurobasket as the world’s second-ranked team, Spain brings a loaded roster into the tournament as usual that’s headlined by the Gasol brothers. Marc and Pau lead the Spaniards along with NBA guards Sergio Rodriguez (Sixers in 2016) and Ricky Rubio (Jazz) and a host of frontcourt help in Juancho Hernangomez (Nuggets), Willy Hernangomez (Knicks) and Alex Abrines (Thunder). Spain is the tournament’s defending champion with recent EuroBasket titles in 2015, 2011 and 2009.
Monday, Sept. 4 vs. Hungary – 8am ET
Hungary also will enter Eurobasket without an official FIBA world ranking as it plays in its first Eurobasket since 1999. The Hungarians have medaled in five FIBA events in their history, though the last event was Olympic qualifying in 1964.
Tuesday, Sept. 5 vs. Montenegro – 8am ET
Coming in at No. 72 in the FIBA World Rankings, Montenegro is making its first Eurobasket appearance since 2013 and just its second appearance in history. Magic center Nikola Vucevic leads Montenegro into this year’s tournament as the only NBA player on the squad, but Richmond, Va. native and Boston College alum Tyrese Rice will also play for the squad as a naturalized citizen of Montenegro.
Thursday, Sept. 7 vs. Croatia – 7:30am ET
Winners of the 2008 Olympic qualifying tournament, Croatia will make its seventh straight appearance in Eurobasket as the No. 11 team in the FIBA World Rankings. They’re led by a trio of NBA players in former Wizard Bojan Bogdanovic (Pacers), Dario Saric (Sixers) and Dragan Bender (Suns).