Story by KL Chouinard
EuroBasket 2017 tips off Thursday, and two members of the Atlanta Hawks — Dennis Schröder of Germany and Marco Belinelli of Italy — should figure prominently in the outcome of Europe’s most important international basketball championship.
In the 24-nation tournament, both Germany and Italy will compete among the six teams of Group B, a group which also includes Ukraine, Lithuania, Israel and Georgia.
Schröder will start at point guard and try to help the Germans earn their first Eurobasket medal since 2005. In his first European championship without Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki at his side, Schröder will carry a big offensive load. He will be helped by former Columbia University guard Maodo Lo and incoming Boston Celtics big man Daniel Theis. The team is coached by Brooklyn Nets assistant Chris Fleming.
Two years ago, Schröder averaged 15.3 points and 5.3 assists at the most recent EuroBasket tournament, where he finished first among individual players in free throw percentage (100 percent), 7th in assists (5.3) and 7th in field-goal percentage (57.1 percent), the last of which is a remarkable feat for a point guard.
On the Italian squad, Belinelli will start on the wing for a team that finished sixth in the same event in 2015. With Danilo Gallinari of the Los Angeles Clippers absent due to a hand injury that he sustained in a pre-tourney friendly match, Italy will surely count on Belinelli for dependable scoring and outside shooting. The Italian team also features former NBA player Luigi Datome and rising European star Nicolo Melli.
Belinelli recently told an Italian newspaper that this competition may possibly be his final appearance with the national team.
At Eurobasket 2015, Belinelli averaged 16.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists. He finished seventh in points per game and first in three-point field goals per game (3.6).
Germany’s schedule of games for group play (all times ET):
Aug. 31, Ukraine, 8:45 AM
Sep. 2, Georgia, 8:45 AM
Sep. 3, Israel, 2:30 PM
Sep. 5, Italy, 11:30 AM
Sep. 6, Lithuania, 7:45 AM
Italy’s schedule of games for group play (all times ET):
Aug. 31, Israel, 2:30 PM
Sep. 2, Ukraine, 11:30 AM
Sep. 3, Lithuania, 11:30 AM
Sep. 5, Italy, 11:30 AM
Sep. 6, Georgia, 10:30 AM
Each team in the event will play five games in group play. After group play concludes, the top four teams from each group advance to the round of 16, at which point the tournament becomes a single-elimination event. The tournament concludes with a championship game on Sept. 17.