On September 1, the men’s European basketball championship will start in Georgia, the Czech Republic, Italy and Germany. Russian basketball players will not take part in it for the well-known reason – FIBA rejected our national teams from all upcoming international competitions. However, several players and even one coach, well known to the Russian audience, will still go to EuroBasket. We tell you which of those who can be called “ours” with a stretch, reached the European championship.
The captain of the Georgian national team and the former player of CSKA Moscow, Tornike Shengell, will miss the home European Championship. In the selection match for the World Cup – 2023 with the Netherlands, he suffered a serious shoulder injury. Six minutes before the end of the third quarter, the big man, trying to catch the ball, slipped and fell right on his right shoulder. He left the site in tears, after which he was taken to the hospital for examination. It is believed that Shengell suffered a fracture and according to the initial forecasts, he will miss at least two months. The player will also need surgery.
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Tornicke had 20 points and four rebounds in 21 minutes before the injury, helping his team snap a six-game losing streak. On August 27, the Georgian national team will play the final match before the start of EuroBasket – their opponent will be Italy.
Shengella spent two years at CSKA before leaving the team in early March. He finished the season in the Italian “Virtus”, with which he won the European Cup, and also reached the final of the Italian championship.
In mid-August, there were rumors that Mykola Milutinov, the center of CSKA Moscow, would miss the European Championship. One of the Serbian media reported that the player suffered a knee injury. However, the local basketball federation of the national team quickly denied this information. At that time, Milutinov was in Ljubljana with the team and did not experience any health problems. And yesterday, August 25, he took part in the winning World Cup qualifying match with Greece. True, he spent only 14.5 minutes on the court, scoring 12 points and collecting four rebounds.
At the group stage of the European Championship, the Serbian national team will play against Israel, the Czech Republic, Poland, Finland and the Netherlands.
Mario Hezonha, MVP of the 2021/2022 regular season and one of the best scorers in the ZGB League, entered the bid for the Croatian national team. He spent the last championship in UNICS, but in July he officially left the team and moved to Real Madrid. Moreover, Hezonya would have been happy to stay in Kazan, but the exclusion of Russian clubs from the European Cups has brought its own corrections.
In the group stage, the Croatian team will play against Greece, which will be their first opponent, as well as against Ukraine, Great Britain, Estonia and Italy.
Former CSKA coach Dimitris Itoudis will go to the upcoming EuroBasket as the head coach of the Greek national team. The first rumors that the specialist will lead the national team appeared last fall, but he was officially appointed to this position in March of this year.
He left Moscow CSKA, where the Greek teacher has worked since 2014, in early June – after his team was defeated by Zenit in the final series of the VTB League.
On the eve of the European Championship, the Greek team is called one of the favorites. This despite the fact that the final composition, according to Itudis himself, will be named at the very last moment. And the participation of the star Giannis Antetokounmpo in the tournament remains in question. The other day, he missed the match with the Turkish national team due to back pain, but the MRI examination did not reveal any serious injuries in the leader of “Milwaukee”. As a result, he went with the team to the aforementioned match against Serbia and played 40 minutes, becoming the most effective player with 40 points.
The former captain of “Zenit” Matevush Panitka may miss the European Championship for a peculiar reason. He had a conflict with his younger brother – Marcel Panitka. He did not get into the preliminary application of the Polish national team for the tournament, for which he accused Matevush. The brother allegedly tried to block Panitka Jr.’s path to the national team, which he told on national television. And the answer didn’t take long – Mateusz revealed the details of the family drama.
Briefly: Matevush believed that his brother sided with his parents, with whom he and his wife had a very strained relationship. Now Panitka Sr. refuses to play with Marcel for the same team. And if he still receives a call to the national team, Mateusz will be ready to “make room for him”.
Ponitka left Zenit in March of this year – his contract was terminated early by mutual consent. He joined the team in 2019, and in the 2020/2021 season he became the captain of the blue-white-blue team.
Another ex-CSKA player, Milos Teodosic, was left out of the Serbian national team’s application for the European Championship. For 10 years, he consistently defended the colors of the national team and did not miss international competitions, unless he was injured. However, this time the head coach of the Serbian national team Sviatislav Pešić decided not to call the veteran to the Eurobasket.
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“We had a very good conversation with Teodosic. My decision was not easy – and not only because he has been in the national team for a long time. It’s not easy with any player. Maybe he was a little surprised, but this is an integral part of life and sports.
I simply told him that I could not offer him the status and place he had in the national team. We have selected players who can give more at the moment. There was a lot of discussion about him being the captain of the national team. I wanted him to stay in the team as a substitute, but he never was. And I honestly told him that I have better players than him at quarterback. The team consists not only of experienced players, but also of inexperienced ones – those who work better than everyone else. This is the decision that was made. He thanked me, and I thanked him for agreeing to my choice,” explained Pešić.
Ex-UNIX player Lorenzo Brown received a call-up to the Spanish national team. This summer, Brown was “naturalized” – he received Spanish citizenship in addition to his American one and earned the right to play for the Spanish national team. The decision was negatively received by the local players’ union, but Brown was still included in the team’s preliminary bid for the European Championship.
Brown left UNIX at the end of June. He spent one year in the Kazan team, producing the best season of his European career. The player will continue his career in “Maccabi” – he signed a two-year contract with the team from Tel Aviv.
Photo: Oscar J. Barroso/Europa Press via Getty Images
French defender Thomas Ertel, who seems to be moving to Zenit soon, entered the application of his national team. However, a possible move to St. Petersburg put the player in a difficult position.
In early August, the French basketball federation banned those who have contracts with Russian and Belarusian teams from playing for the country’s national team. Ertel formally agreed to this ban and even signed the relevant document. At the same time, not only the appearance at the Eurobasket is at stake – in case of violation of the agreement, the point guard will not be able to play for France at the 2024 Olympic Games.
Ertel himself, according to rumors, has already agreed on a contract with Zenit, and the federation will not stand in the way of this transition. But now the French national team is in dire need of his services, so the actual completion of the deal is being postponed for now. It is expected that, to avoid any complications, the player will join Zenit already after the end of Eurobasket.