GB have done remarkably well to climb the rankings in recent years and their latest position of 23rd in the world is enough to make them the third best team in Group A. However, rankings are never a clear indication of how events will unfold and Joe Prunty is missing several key players and will expect a tough ride in Slovenia. Here are their opponents..
ISRAEL (31st)*- 04.09.13
They’ve not had a top six finish at EuroBasket since 1983, four years after claiming an historic silver medal in Italy, and Israel head to Slovenia on the back of a mixed preparation schedule. They split results against Italy and Poland and were beaten twice in three meetings by Georgia and suffered a disappointing defeat against group rivals Belgium. Yaniv Green has been an ever-present for Israel at the EuroBasket since 2001 while Coach Arik Shivek will be hoping key centre and naturalised American, Alex Tyus will be fit.
FRANCE (8th)- 05.09.13
The only top 10 side in Group A and Les Blues will head into Slovenia as one of the pre-tournament favourites with Tony Parker leading their quest for a medal. The San Antonio guard is joined in the squad by NBA team-mates Boris Diaw and Nando de Colo and has been representing his country since 2001. If they are to achieve gold then they will most likely have to overcome their recent nemesis’ Spain having lost to La Roja at the last two EuroBasket’s (09′ QF + 11′ Final) as well as suffering a quarter-final defeat at the 2012 Olympics in London. Coach Vincent Collet has seen his side win a number of preparation games so far with just one blemish against Greece before a double defeat against the reigning EuroBasket champions Spain.
BELGIUM (77th)- 06.09.13
Arguably, the weakest side in the group heading into their second consecutive EuroBasket appearance after a 21st place finish in 2011- their first major competition since 1993. The Belgian Lions will once again be coached by Eddy Casteels and they were dealt a blow with the loss of American born Matthew Lojeski, who plays for Olympiacos and recently required Belgian citizenship only to be ruled out through injury. Belgium have had a strong preparation picking up victories over the Netherlands, Italy, Israel and the Czech Republic although they have lost four of their last five matches.
GERMANY (13th)- 08.09.13
The Germans have not fared too well in major tournaments in recent years and are once again without Dirk Nowitzki heading into this year’s EuroBasket in Slovenia. Frank Menz is the new man at the helm charged with changing their fortunes having seen a recent slump after their runner-up performance at the EuroBasket back in 2005. Having missed out on a place at the 2012 Olympics, Germany competed in the EuroBasket Qualification tournament last year and secured their place in Slovenia with a perfect 8-0 record in their group. The ‘Eagles’ have yet to reduce their squad but have opted for a youthful looking group of players, who have had a mixed set of results in preparation so far.
UKRAINE (50th)- 09.09.13
Another team GB will hope to overcome as the Ukranians don’t post a great record in major competitions having never registered a top-12 finish at the EuroBasket and never competed at an Olympics or a World Championships. Ukraine have suffered several defeats in preparation but did pick up victories over Sweden and Poland recently. Mike Fraletto will coach the team again as they look to make a good impression in Slovenia with qualification for 2015 already secured courtesy of being tournament hosts. Back in 2011, Ukraine and Great Britain split their group games in the qualifying tournament but have a new-look squad while GB are depleted.
Group B- Bosnia (50th), Montenegro (77th), Lithuania (5th), Macedonia (34th), Latvia (39th), Serbia (12th)
Group C- Poland (40th), Slovenia (14th), Spain (2nd), Croatia (16th), Czech Republic (61st), Georgia (50th)
Group D- Finland, Greece (4th), Turkey (7th), Russia (6th), Italy (21st), Sweden
*FIBA Rankings in brackets
Predicted six (seven) to qualify for the 2014 World Cup: Spain, Russia, Greece, Lithuania, France, Macedonia, Serbia
*Spain qualify as hosts so should they finish in the top six, the seventh best team will make the World Cup