Delegates of all 24 teams, 150 media representatives, numerous special guests, European basketball stars of the past and the official mascot of EuroBasket 2013, Lipko, all gathered on Sunday in the historic Postojna Cave for the Draw Ceremony for EuroBasket 2013.
Reaction to the draw was quick and the theme was the same, the groups are tough, but with the best 24 teams in Europe competing, there’s really no place to hide as every squad in the competition is there because they’re capable of playing quality basketball.
Spain, EuroBasket 2011 champion and 2012 London Olympics silver medallists, was drawn into Group C with Poland, host Slovenia, Croatia, the Czech Republic and Georgia. Sergio Scariolo, Spain’s head coach commented on his Federation’s website, “Spain is drawn into a group of medium-high difficulty, no opponent will be of a low level.” The 5,200 seat Celje Arean in Celje, Slovenia will host the Group C competition.
The French, runners-up to Spain at EuroBasket 2011, was drawn into Group A with Germany, Great Britain, Belgium, Ukraine and Israel. The Group A contests will be held at the 12,500 seat Stožice Arena in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Vincent Collet, head coach of the France National Team commented after the draw was complete, “The conditions are more favourable than two years ago, but we have to monitor the composition of the German and British selections.” He says he’s optimistic about his club’s chances of being one of the top three in Group A and advancing to the Second Round, but feels that things will be difficult there, “We should come out of Group A in the best possible position, since Group B contains some of the best basketball nations.” Collet added, “We have ambitions, we have to be ready to go far. We respect everyone but we fear no one.”
The France-Germany match-up in Group A prompted Jan Jagla of the German squad to comment, “Against France we are the underdogs but especially at the beginning of a tournament, we have proven to be able to put them in trouble.”
Group B, which will be played in Jesenice, Slovenia, at the 5,500 seat Dvorana Podmezakla is being called the “Balkan-Baltics” group with neighbors Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, and the FYR of Macedonia ending up in the group, along with Lithuania and Latvia. “We never played in the Balkan league, so it might be a little difficult for us to play in that kind of group,” Arvydas Sabonis, the President of the Lithuanian Basketball Federation, was quoted as saying.
Group D features Greece, Russia, Italy, Finland, Turkey and Sweden and will be hosted in Koper, in the 5,000 seat Sportna Dvorana Bonifika. Turkey’s head coach Bogdan Tanjevic seemed please with the results in more ways than one, “The groups seem balanced. Everyone will have to play great basketball to achieve a result,” the Turk’s skipper commented. “I don’t really see a difference in difficulty between the groups. The only difference I spotted is the climate. For instance, we are travelling to Koper. I’m thrilled with that, because I will be able to sleep at my house in Trieste.”
The Draw ceremony featured some of the biggest basketball stars of the past from Europe; Radoslav Nesterovic, Peter Vilfan and Ivo Daneu, who are all official EuroBasket 2013 ambassadors, and Aljosa Zorga, Jorge Garbajosa, Ibrahim Kutluay and Alexander Volkov.
Olafur Rafnsson, FIBA Europe President was pleased with the event and turnout, “The location and the whole organisation of the draw perfectly display the willingness of the organisers to provide us with what is shaping up to be an unparalleled EuroBasket next year,” said Rafnsson.
Newly appointed FIBA Europe Secretary General, Kamil Novak, added his sentiments regarding the upcoming tournament and the Slovenian organizing committing, “The fantastic Slovenian fans are well respected throughout the [European] continent. My sincere thanks to the Local Organising Committee for setting such a unique stage for this event, which underlines the excitement that basketball is able to create.”
In his remarks, Ziga Turk, Slovenia’s Minister for Education, Culture and Sport added, “In 1970 basketball became one the most popular sports in Slovenia when the World Championship was held in Ljubljana, and our team won. We want every visitor to feel at home and hope that at the end of the championship they will have fond memories of Slovenia.”
“Lately, there have been doubts regarding our ability to successfully organize this Championship,” said Slovenian Basketball Federation President Roman Volcic. “But we have remained optimistic while trying to make this event a reality. The Draw inside the Postojna Cave is the best evidence of our success so far. We will continue to inspire the Slovenian and foreign public, and introduce our glorious country, as well as Slovenian basketball to the world.”
EuroBasket 2013 will be held in Slovenia from Sept. 4th thru Sept. 22nd of 2013. The first rounds will be spread around Slovenia, the final rounds will be held in Stozice Arena in Ljubljana.
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Group A Round One Schedule
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Group B Round One Schedule
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Group C Round One Schedule
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Group D Round One Schedule
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photos courtesy FIBA Europe