It’s almost time for Eurobasket so BallinEurope is breaking down each of the groups over the next few days. Rather than going team by team which, to be honest, would take way too long, we’re going group by group to preview the battles ahead in the opening stages. By process of following the alphabet, we’re going in the order A, B, C, and then D. Today it’s time to look at Group A
Venue: Hartwall Arena, Helsinki
Is Dan Clark aka the original Kristaps Porzingis playing there?: No
Hosts Finland have landed what could be the most fun group of the entire opening round. The Susijengi have consistently been a last 16 side in EuroBasket over the past few editions and they will be expected to progress from their home venue to Istanbul. Joining them in the group is a Greek side that looks strong but suffered a big blow with the withdrawal of Giannis Antetokounmpo. Slovenia’s got a three-headed monster in Goran Dragic, Luka Doncic, and Anthony Randolph while Poland are reliable for highlights thanks to Mateusz Ponitka. France, down quite a few of their more recognisable names, could be fascinating to watch while Iceland won’t be favoured to progress but will bring plenty of rowdy fans.
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What the bookies think
France are clear group favourites on all markets with no book making them longer then evens and they are quickly followed by Greece at 11/4. There’s a big drop then to Slovenia at 11/1 followed by Finland and Poland at 28/1. Iceland are comfortably the rank outsiders with some books pricing them as long as 2,000/1. The value play here is Slovenia, where they probably shouldn’t be any longer than 7/1, while evens on France looks like gouging by the bookmakers.
The easiest pick across all of these four groups, it’s Finland’s opener against France on 31 August. The first game for a Finnish side with some really, really, wild fans is usually a good bet but throw in them having it on their home court and this is a no-brainer. Finland’s clash with Poland will likely be far more important but if you want to catch a hot crowd in the opening days of the competition, this is the game to watch.
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Your four teams to progress are, in alphabetical order:
While Slovenia offer the best price, I’m still going to back Greece to take top spot in the group. France and Slovenia should battle it out for second and third but still progress pretty comfortably. The home crowd in Helsinki is going to be worth quite a few points to Finland and that should be enough for them to get past Poland and Iceland to secure the last spot in Istanbul.
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