Europe’s largest basketball tournament will tip off Thursday morning for the first time in five years. EuroBasket 2022 will feature more than 30 NBA players, including stars such as Nikola Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic and Rudy Gobert.
Twenty-four teams are involved, with four nations hosting preliminary games, leading up to the gold medal contest Sept. 18 in Berlin, Germany. The tournament used to be held every two years, but it was switched to four-year intervals beginning in 2017. It was delayed an extra year because the Olympics had to be pushed back from 2020 to 2021 due to COVID-19.
Slovenia is the defending champion, with Goran Dragic earning MVP honors in 2017. He didn’t play internationally last year, but has returned to help defend the title, according to Eurohoops.
“A challenging tournament is ahead of us, which we are all looking forward to,” Dragic said. “The championship will be one of the most even ever, as most of the national teams have their strongest possible rosters. As professional athletes, we naturally prefer to play against the best. This gives us additional momentum and presents us with a great challenge. We trained well, the team is ready and we can’t wait for the opening match against Lithuania.”
A full schedule for the event, including the opening matchup between Bulgaria and Spain, is available at ESPN.
There’s more international news to pass along:
- Nemanja Bjelica, who played for the Warriors last season, was left off Serbia’s EuroBasket roster because of an injured calf, per Eurohoops. Bjelica missed last week’s FIBA World Cup Qualifiers with the same injury, which he suffered in mid-August. Serbia, led by Jokic, is considered one of the top teams in the tournament even without Bjelica.
- A final decision on Tomas Satoransky‘s availability for the Czech team won’t be announced until Thursday, sources tell Eurohoops. A health official from the Wizards, whom Satoransky ended last season with, was in Prague to help with his recovery from ligament damage to his right ankle.
- Timberwolves assistant and former NBA guard Pablo Prigioni has been named head coach of Argentina’s national team, Eurohoops relays. “My feeling for the National Team is big, as is my commitment to this group,” Prigioni stated in a press release. “The Argentina shirt is the most important thing. We are focused, staff and players, on giving our best in the tournament that lies ahead.” His first challenge will be the AmeriCup tournament, which begins Friday in Brazil.