No need for the James-Webb telescope to observe this alignment of stars. The stars are indeed not missing the call of the European basketball championship – the first for five years – which begins on Thursday 1er September, which will take place in Tbilisi (Georgia), Milan (Italy), Prague (Czech Republic), Cologne and Berlin (Germany), among others. The last two MVPs are at the rendezvous (most valuable playersbest players) of the NBA, the Greek Giannis Antetokounmpo (who was in 2019 and in 2020) and the Serbian Nikola Jokic (who was in 2021 and in 2022), as well as the majority of the best European players.
“This competition could be the toughest continental tournament in history”, observes the French Elie Okobo, who is playing his first campaign with the Blues. His trainer, Vincent Collet, is not far from thinking the same thing. “This Euro promises to be exceptional”judges the one who is starting his sixth European competition – he has been in place since 2009.
For the latter, the modification of the calendar has changed the situation. “Until now, there were two Euros per Olympiad and, often, the one following the Olympic Games was less high. This is the case of the one we won [en 2013]it must be recognized”, assures the tricolor technician. Since 2017, the European competition has only taken place every four years – scheduled for 2021, this Euro has been postponed by one year due to the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics – and its appeal is affected.
Thirty-five players in the NBA
Back in the national team this summer, Goran Dragic knows that his Slovenia will have a lot to do to defend its title acquired in 2017. “It’s going to be the toughest European championship I’ve playedwarned in mid-August the Slovenian leader, now lieutenant of superstar Luka Doncic. Many national teams now have NBA players. » Barring last-minute changes to the workforce, no less than thirty-five players from the powerful North American basketball league will compete in the Euro.
“The European Championship has become a major issue, and all these players seem determined to show that they are also capable of performing for the national team”, analyzes Frédéric Weis. The former pivot of the Blues has no less than five possible candidates for the final victory – Slovenia, Greece, Serbia, France and Lithuania -, “and very clever who can say who is the number one favorite”.
Vincent Collet is not mistaken. For a month, the French coach has noticed “motivation and commitment” of the various selections for this Euro. “The density is incredible. There are many more potential winners than one might thinkwarns the tricolor coach. Maybe starting with [l’un des] host country[s] »Germany, which the Blues face in their first match on Thursday.