SPORTS

Smooth Eurobasket draw for Greece

A draw on January 30 saw Greece land in a nearly all-Balkan group for this summer’s European Basketball Championship that will take place in Lithuania.

The national team will face Croatia, Montenegro, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina as well as the team to emerge from the qualifying group that includes Finland, Portugal and Hungary.

It is not only the first group stage that appears likely to be a smooth one for Greece, but also the second, as the national squad will then play against the top three teams from the group that includes Slovenia, Russia, Belgium, Georgia, Bulgaria and Ukraine — hardly a worrying set of opponents for the Greeks.

Consequently, when the tournament starts on August 31, Greece can go in as favorite not only to win the top spot in its first-round group but also in the second round, which means it will probably avoid a dangerous team in the all-important quarterfinal playoffs.

The final is scheduled for September 18.

Greece is still without a coach after the end of Lithuanian Jonas Kazlauskas’s contract.

Israeli manager David Blatt had come close to reaching a deal but is now likely to renew his contract with Russia.