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Countdown From 5

Five days. Only five days left from the beginning of the Eurobasket 2015 which the defending champion France will be hosting in the city of Lille.

The group stage will take place in four different European countries, one for each group (France, Croatia, Germany and Latvia) from the 5th to the 11th of September and the final stage of the championship will be in Lille from the 12th to the 20th of September.

With all preparation games finished and teams getting ready for the real competition, only five days seems like ages without basketballSo let’s take a look back and seehow the preparation games could affect the tournament.

Coaches and players are always talking about how important is having a good preparation and repeating that preparation is key for a success in the championshipAvoid injuries, improve the chemistry of the team…but does that mean the better results you get in your preparation games the better you will finish the championship? It’s obvious that the answer is not necessarily but it gives you a clue of the potential winners and in my opinion I would bet (and I would not be the only one…) that the champion is going to be one of the top-five teams in preparation. To make sure our bet is awinner, let´s take a look at the top-five teams and their chances according to the preparation games played. Let´s countdown from five!

5.- Greece: Balance (7-2)
They may not have the best team of their history but who is not afraid of Greece? Maybe they have not been in the top spots in the last few years but who is brave enough to take them out of the bet? Not me…specially this year with Giannis  Antetokounmpo, Kostas Papanikolaou and Kosta Koufos playing important minutes in the NBA and the tireless Vassilis Spanoulis.

4.- France: Balance (8-2)
The defending champion from 2013 is the team with more NBA talent in all Eurobasket with six plus some former NBA players. I would highlight three that in my opinion can make the difference: Nico Batum, Nando de Colo and of course Tony Parker. All the pieces are together to repeat 2013 success this year as they host the championship. 

3.- Serbia: Balance (9-1)
After a bad tournament in Eurobasket 2013 they won the silver medal in the World Championship in 2014 and they want to keep it along the same lines. With Milos Teodosic as their leader, this year all eyes are on the 2015 Euroleague MVP Nemanja Bjelica. He has just signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves after his incredibleseason. This has to be his tournament. Special mention toone of my favourites too, Bogdan Bogdanovic.

2.- Spain: Balance (7-0)
A team full of injuries, some new young players and a name in capital letters. PAU GASOL. There are two different teams when he is on the court and when he is not. The aspirations of Spain in this tournament depend on him. Other players that must step up are Nikola Mirotic coming from a great rookie season in the Chicago Bulls and there are high expectations for Sergi Llull as well after being MVP of the Euroleague Final. I am expecting a huge tournament from Rudy Fernandez.

1.- Croatia: Balance (9-0)
One of the most talented teams. Always a contender but never winning anything. With Ante Tomic and Bojan Bogdanovic leading the way and with two of the most talented young players of the tournament Mario Hezonja and Dario Saric It has to be this year for Croatia.

Analysed the top-five teams from the preparation games and their most important players, we don´t need to forget that all these teams left their opponents under 70 points.
Coaches say that defense win tournaments so I feel pretty confident about my bet. Maybe I was brave forgettingteams like Italy, Lithuania or Russia. Will they be real contenders? 
Keep the countdown...

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