The "friendlies" for the two Euro-Nets ended Thursday when Mirza Teletovic and and an injury-depleted Bosnia lost to Lithuania by 29 with the Nets forward scoring only three points. The schedule, admitted Bosnia coach Aco Petrovic, had been grueling, too grueling, with six games in the last seven days. Croatia and Bojan Bogdanovic finished up its "friendlies" earlier in the week.
Starting Wednesday, the real competition (the "unfriendlies?") begins with Eurobasket 2013 game being played in five arenas around Slovenia. Although the program lasts until September 22, it would take a storybook scenario for Teletovic to still be playing after September 10, the end of the first round.
It's a complicated competition, described by Wikipedia this way. (The Eurobasket's own version is even more difficult to understand.)
In the first stage every team has to play against every other team of their group (round-robin). This means five matches per team.
From every group the 3 best teams advance to the second stage and the 3 worst teams will be eliminated. In the second stage 2 new groups will be formed. The 3 best teams from groups A and B will be united to form group E whereas the 3 best teams from groups C and D will be united to form group F.
In these two new groups of the second stage only matches by teams that had not yet played each other have to be played. As for the matches that had already happened in the first stage their results will also count in the second stage. Therefore every team plays 3 matches and there are 12 teams in the second stage.
Out of the second stage the 4 best teams from each of the two groups advance to the quarterfinals (8 teams in total) whereas the 2 worst teams will be eliminated from championship (4 teams in total).
Bosnia will compete in Group B, where it's going to have a tough time advancing to the second round. Of the five other teams in the competition, two --Lithuania and Serbia-- are viewed among the top contenders. Assuming those two advance, Bosnia has to be have a better record than Macedonia, Montenegro and Latvia. They were soundly beaten by Macedonia and Lithuania in the "friendlies."
If they don't make it out of the first round, Teletovic will be done by Septmeber 10. It would take a storybook scenario to get past the next round which ends a week later. That would still give Teletovic two weeks rest before training camp.
Croatia is considered a prime candidate to get out of the first round,but its dismal performance in the "friendlies" is giving its fans doubts. Its Group C also has two championship contenders in Spain, the tournament favorite, and Slovenia, the host country. After that, competition drops off.
The two coaches with Nets connections --Joe Prunty with Great Britain and Mike Fratello with Ukraine-- will also have a hard time advancing in Group A. Fratello has the better shot.
The big prize for all the teams is a berth in the FIBA World Championships in Spain next summer. The top six in Eurobasket get bids.
Bosnia tips off against Latvia Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. Central European Time (8:30 a.m. Eastern Time). Croatia plays Spain at 5:45 p.m. CET (11:45 a.m. ET). All the game can be viewed online either with ESPN3 or FIBA LiveStream.
FIBA EuroBasket 2013 - FIBA Europe