SportsA Eurobasket with an NBA hook

    A Eurobasket with an NBA hook

    Not even the legendary Gregg Popovich wanted to miss the Eurobasket. The coach of the San Antonio Spurs and United States coach has arrived in Milan to attend the first phase matches that will be played in the Italian city, one of the four venues of the tournament that starts this Thursday along with Tbilisi, Prague and Cologne . There Popovich will see the flights of Giannis Antetokounmpo, the star of the Milwaukee Bucks who leads Greece. The Hellenic god is one of the giants who dress up this championship with a lot of NBA flavor. Anteto shares the podium with Luka Doncic (Slovenia, Dallas Mavericks) and Nikola Jokic (Serbia, Denver Nuggets) in a collection of stars that also includes the Lithuanians Domantas Sabonis (Sacramento) and Valanciunas (Pelicans), the French Gobert (Minnesota) and Fournier (Knicks), the Croatian Bogdanovic (Atlanta), the Bosnian Nurkic (Portland)…

    The strength of the European player in the NBA is palpable in a Eurobasket that will serve as a rehearsal for the 2023 World Cup and the 2024 Games. The American league established the MVP award, the most valuable player of the season, in 1956. They had to 51 years passed until in 2007 the German Dirk Nowitzki broke down the door and won the first distinction for a European basketball player. Since then, in four other editions the award has gone to a continental player, and it has been in the last four years. James Harden, winner in 2018, was relieved by the Greek Antetokounmpo the following two courses (2019 and 2020) and this was replaced by the Serbian Jokic in the two subsequent ones (2021 and 2022). And Doncic strongly opposes that number one.

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    The Slovenian star defends the crown he won with his teammates five summers ago, when he was an 18-year-old bombshell about to explode. Since then a Eurobasket has not been held. First, FIBA ​​extended the parenthesis between one event and another from two to four years, and then the postponement of the Tokyo Games due to covid forced the tournament to be delayed another course. Five seasons later, Doncic’s Slovenia has recovered veteran point guard Goran Dragic (36 years old) and is second in the ranking favorites of the organization, after Serbia and ahead of Greece and France. Spain appears in the seventh step.

    The challenge of 35 nba present will also be adapting to a less fast and individualistic style of play and with more closed defenses. Despite everything, anyone trembles before Jokic, Anteto and Doncic. joker (27 years old, 2.11m) has already tried silver at the Rio Games with Serbia, four times all star, mvp of the NBA in the last two seasons and owner of a handful of records with Denver. For example, first player in league history with more than 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 500 assists in a single season. A hurricane that last June signed the largest contract in the mecca of basketball: 264 million dollars for five years.

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    Jokic is chasing a ring that Antetokounmpo nabbed in 2021 with Milwaukee. Twice the best of the season and six times all star, this 27-year-old power forward and 2.11 of Nigerian descent made his debut with the senior team in Greece eight years ago. The same commitment to his selection that Doncic, another of the chosen ones, wears. At 23 years old, his growth in the NBA has been dazzling and his videos of unlikely baskets in training, sitting on the bench or even from the locker room tunnel amaze more and more. At the Tokyo Games he scored 48 points in his debut. Today (17.15, Be Mad) he will face a debut against Lithuania.

    Spain presents a team of Spartans. Only Rudy, 37, serves as an anchor with the golden generation, and seven of Scariolo’s 12 will make their big date debuts. It will be in Tbilisi against Bulgaria (13:30, Four), a rival hung by power forward Vezenkov, 27, formerly of Barcelona and today leader in Olympiacos. The Family is endorsed by his glorious past. They are the current world champions and the kings in three of the last five European Championships (2009, 2011 and 2015; France won in 2013 and Slovenia in 2017), but the current challenge is Himalayan.

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    “It will be necessary to sweat the classification”, warns Scariolo, who points to the future: “We are in a generational change that goes beyond this championship. The objective of the cycle is the Games. If we live in the past, we will never move forward.” “We have an opportunity to grow as a team. I see illusion and sacrifice”, affirms Rudy. With Lorenzo Brown (one of the 13 nationalized Americans distributed among the 24 teams) and Garuba touched, Spain opens a path that will also face Georgia (Saturday), Belgium (Sunday), Montenegro (Tuesday) and Turkey (Wednesday). The first four go through to the round of 16 and on the horizon there is a crossover with a team from the group of Slovenia, France, Lithuania and Germany. A challenge on a par with a promising Eurobasket.

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    Source: EL PAIS

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