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EuroBasket 2017 Preview: Can anyone stop Spain?

EuroBasket 2017 Preview: Can anyone stop Spain?

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European Basketball’s premier bi-annual tournament gets underway from Thursday and pits 24 of Europe’s elite sides in four groups of six for a place in the knockout rounds.

The final takes place on Sunday the 17th September and everyone will be aiming to deny Spain a fourth European Basketball Championship title.

The Spaniards are also defending champions and come into the tournament as favourites ahead of their opening clash with Montenegro on Saturday.

However, there are a host of challengers to the Spaniard’s throne including fellow three time former champions Lithuania and three-time gold medal winners Serbia (previously played as Yugoslavia).

British Interest

Great Britain may have qualified for the tournament for only the fourth time, but unfortunately there is little to no hope of a British win.

Joe Prunty’s plucky team only just qualified for the event after finishing second in Group G qualifying but failed to qualify for the tournament two years ago, following the withdrawal of national funding for the sport after failure at the 2012 London Olympics.

Great Britain have never finished higher than 13th in their three prior European tournaments and odds of 300/1 to win the tournament, suggests that is unlikely to change.

Host Nation hope?

The European Basketball Championships has joined the roster of multiple sports taking advantage of the ability to share the staging of a major tournament.

Four nations are hosting the event, Finland, Romania, Israel and Turkey all share responsibilities but none are seen as genuine championship contenders.

In fact, Romania are making their first appearance since 1987 and are ranked as far out as 500/1 to claim a maiden European title.

Of the four, it is Turkey at 18/1 with us who are the only side who are deemed as a host nation with the faintest of hopes of claiming the title.

However, head coach Ufuk Sarıca will expect to get through to the knockout stages after finishing runners up in 2001 and from there anything could happen.

The Big Four

Whereas Turkey may be outsiders at 18/1, they are still remarkably sixth favourite to land the trophy.

That goes to highlight the strength and dominance of the big four. Spain are favourites to reclaim the title they won in 2015 and are good value at 6/4 with us.

The la Roja have won three of the last four tournaments but will face competition from second favourites and 2001 champions Serbia.

The Serbians lost to France in the 2015 European Championships bronze medal match but have been on form prior to the tournament and will be confident of going the distance this time around. At 4/1 they offer a solid bit of value; however, a better bet may be to plump on Lithuania.

Lithuania have a strong European record but will be frustrated at having been beaten finalists for the last two tournaments in a row. 8/1 says they can go all the way and claim a fourth title.

France makes up the big four and won the tournament in 2013. A price of 5/1 adds value to a side chasing their second European crown.

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