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EuroBasket 2017 Preview: The Czech Republic probably won’t win Group C, but they should advance

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The Czechs have to face the defending EuroBasket champions in Spain and a long time power in Croatia. But the rest of the group isn’t that daunting.

NBA: Washington Wizards at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

We gave previews for Group A and Group B in EuroBasket 2017. Now, let’s talk about Group C. It’s the most important group for Wizards fans because it’s where Tomas Satoransky and the Czech Republic will be playing.

Where’s Group C Playing?

They are playing in Cluj, Romania. The group’s game schedule is here. The first games start on Friday, September 1.

Where can I watch games in the USA?

LiveBasketball.TV is FIBA’s official streaming option. WatchESPN also airs EuroBasket livestreams.

Who’s on the Czech Republic’s schedule?

Instead of giving a country by country summary, we’ll go in chronological order of the teams the Czech Republic will play.

We already have a quick summary of the Czech team here, but now, let’s go through the schedule:

Romania on Friday, September 1 at 1:30 p.m. ET - The Czechs will be the first team to play the hosts. For Romania, they haven’t made EuroBasket since 1987 when they failed to win a single game. In short, it’s unlikely that Romania would’ve made EuroBasket if it wasn’t hosting.

The most notable Romanian on the national team is Vlad Moldoveanu, who played high school basketball at St.John’s College in D.C. and played his college basketball at George Mason and American, where he was a two-time first team All-Patriot League player. As a pro, Moldoveanu has played in Italy and Estonia, and most recently won the Romanian League playing for U BT Cluj-Napoca last season.

The Czechs should win this game, and they need to put this away early because of who they have the next day.

Spain on Saturday, September 2 at 10:45 a.m. ET - On paper, Spain should win this one and blow the Czechs out. However, the Spanish lost a friendly to Belgium — who has NO NBA players — on August 9 at home in Tenerife. It’s not like Spain played the B team. Their army of NBA players like Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol, and Ricky Rubio all played major minutes in the shocker heard around Europe. Needless to say, the Koninklijke Belgische Basketbalbond, or Belgium’s basketball federation wrote a biased recap on it (link in Dutch). Can’t blame them for being happy.

Spain’s the defending champions in this tournament and they’ve won three of the last four EuroBaskets overall. Even though they were caught off guard by one of the weaker squads in this tournament, perhaps that loss can give the Czechs some hope that anything is possible. I still expect a big loss either way when I’m thinking with my head. But if they can keep it close, you never know, right?

Hungary on Monday, September 4 at 8 a.m. ET - Hungary makes its first EuroBasket since 1999. They will be led by Adam Hanga, who the Spurs drafted in 2011, but he never went stateside. Hanga is the defending EuroLeague Best Defender while playing for Saski Baskonia in Spain, but he’s now playing for FC Barcelona Lassa. Former Stanford forward Rosco Allen will also be on the squad, as well as former Iowa State guard DeAndre Kane, who’s played in Russia, Belgium, and Israel in his pro career.

The Hungarians have a good set of talent, but I don’t think it’s enough for them to beat the Czechs. Let’s “pencil in” a win for Satoransky and his crew.

Montenegro on Tuesday, September 5 at 8 a.m. ET - Montenegro missed EuroBasket 2015 and hopes to get make good use of its opportunity this go-round.

Magic center Nikola Vucevic will be their anchor of course, but their point guard, Tyrese Rice, has ties to the Mid-Atlantic. Rice went to high school at Lloyd C. Bird High School in Midlothian, Virginia, a Richmond suburb and played college basketball at Boston College. Though he never played in the NBA, Rice has won both the EuroCup and EuroLeague Final Four MVP awards while playing for clubs in Lithuania, Germany, and Israel. Last season, he signed with FC Barcelona Lassa, filling in the void for Satoransky when he came to the Wizards.

I’m gonna give the Czechs another W here in this battle of Barcelona PG’s.

Croatia on Thursday, September 7 at 7:30 a.m. ET - The longtime European power won’t bring all of their NBA talent for EuroBasket, but I’m looking forward to watching now-Pacers forward Bojan Bogdanovic and Sixers forward Dario Saric should be intriguing to watch. Suns guard Dragan Bender is the third NBA player on the roster.

I think the Croatians will be a bit too much for the Czechs, so this is a loss.

Anything else interesting about this group?

Ernie Grunfeld was born in Romania. You know what team he’s rooting for, as long as the Czech Republic isn’t against his squad of course!
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Romania is the host country in this group. The Wizards actually have a strong connection with this country for two reasons.

First, Gheorge Muresan, the NBA’s 1995-96 Most Improved Player, played for the Wizards/Bullets from 1993-1997. Though Muresan never played for the Romanian national team, he is from Tritenii de Jos, which is nearby Cluj.

Second, Ernie Grunfeld, the Wizards’ President of Basketball Operations was born in Satu Mare, Romania and lived there until moving to the United States in 1964. Like Muresan, Grunfeld never played for Romania. That’s because he naturalized as an American citizen and played for the USA Basketball men’s national team where he was on the 1976 Olympic team that won the gold medal.

Who should advance?

Spain should win this group with an undefeated record. Then the Czech Republic will advance to the Round of 16 with Croatia and Montenegro.