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EuroBasket 2017 Preview: Lithuania, Italy, Israel and Germany headline Group B

Washington Wizards v Atlanta Hawks - Game Three Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images

Here are the teams in EuroBasket 2017 Group B.

Where’s Group B playing?

They will play in Tel Aviv, Israel. The game schedule is here and the first games will be played on Thursday, August 31.

Georgia

The Georgians will be led by Warriors center Zaza Pachulia, who was in the top 3 of the fan vote in the 2017 NBA All-Star Game. Pachulia will be back to headline the squad, as you might expect. Former Missouri and Memphis guard Michael Dixon will also be on the team. He now plays for SIG Strasbourg in France and was one of Georgia’s best players during qualifiers.

Georgia who looks to bounce back after a mildly disappointing EuroBasket 2015 performance. Two years ago, they nearly failed to get out of the group stage so they’re looking to do better this time.

Germany

Germany is the largest country in the European Union and one of the most powerful countries economically in Europe. But it’s far from being one of the continent’s basketball powers. Even when Dirk Nowitzki played for their national team until he retired after EuroBasket 2015, they haven’t won medals like Lithuania and Spain have over the years.

Hawks point guard Dennis Schroder will lead the Germans now alongside Celtics rookie Daniel Theis. They should have the talent to get to the round of 16, but beyond that it’s a stretch.

Israel

Warriors swingman Omri Casspi headlines the Israelis, but former NBA guard Gal Mekel and former NC State center Richard Howell are also on the team. The Israelis have also been one of the hotter teams heading into EuroBasket during friendlies and they’re hosting the group stage. This team should be a safe bet to advance.

Italy

Marco Bellinelli will lead the squad without Clippers forward Danilo Gallinari and Andrea Bargnani due to injury. They are also coached by Spurs assistant Ettore Messina. This squad is certainly an intriguing one to watch despite the injuries and they should make the quarterfinals if not better in this tournament.

Lithuania

The EuroBasket 2015 runners up almost failed to make it out of the group stage. Things were looking pretty bleak after Belgium beat them on a buzzer beater. But again, they were runners up at the end of the day. They also haven’t done particularly well in friendlies. But then again, those don’t count at the end of the day.

The Lithuanians will be led be Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas. They’ll also have New York Knicks forward Mindaugas Kuzminskas on the lineup. I expect this team to win the group on paper, though they may “hold back” until the knockout stages like they did in 2015.

Ukraine

Former NBA player Viacheslav Kravtsov will lead the Ukrainians who will be without many of their best players like Pooh Jeter and Suns center Alex Len. They were one of the lowest finishers in EuroBasket 2015, and that’s probably going to happen again in this tournament.

Anything interesting of note?

During a friendly game against the Netherlands last July, Danilo Gallinari was boxed out by Dutch and former San Diego post Jito Kok when Gallinari took a shot to the face. Gallinari was pissed, so he punched Kok in the face. After, Gallinari felt pain in his hand, so that explains his absence.

It’s one thing to be injured, even if an injury is self-inflicted. But injuries from a fight that one instigated sound like karma to me. Furthermore, Italy was playing a friendly against a country that isn’t in EuroBasket. And on top of that, the Netherlands isn’t Italy’s cultural rival, so that makes the extra curricular activity even more perplexing.

Who should advance?

Lithuania should win the group, but they’ll make the Round of 16 in almost any circumstance. Italy, Israel, and Germany are the other teams who should advance.