The draw for Eurobasket 2013
(also know as the European Championship) took place earlier this week in Slovenia, the host country for the upcoming 24-team tournament. The draw, and the requisite fanfare, took place in a cave (seriously) and featured the incredibly cute mascot Lipko
, which, from what I can gather, is fashioned after a linden tree (you can follow Lipko on Twitter
, seriously). Lipko continues the long tradition of great Eurobasket mascots, which include Amberis
from Eurobasket 2011 in Lithuania and Mieszko
from Eurobasket 2009 in Poland.
For Trail Blazers fans, the draw carries some intrigue, as Nicolas Batum and the French National team ended up in Group A
with Joel Freeland and the Great Britain National team. France v. Great Britain is scheduled for Sept. 5, 2013, so you've still got plenty of time to book travel to Slovenia.
The remainder of Group A consists of Ukraine, Germany (who, I hear, will not be joined by Dirk Nowitzki this time around), Israel and Belgium. That's a cakewalk of a group for the French who, depending on who shows up to play for Spain in 2013, have a legitimate shot of winning the tournament.
What's more, with three teams out of each group advancing, Great Britain stands a decent chance to making it out of the first round as well, especially if Luol Deng suits up. To put that in perspective, Great Britain won their first game ever
at a Eurobasket in 2011, so advancing to the second round in 2013 would be a serious achievement and another momentum builder after their performance in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
As for Victor Claver and Team Spain, their group, Group C
, is an even easier draw than France's, which makes sense considering Spain was/is the No. 1 seed. Poland, Slovenia, Croatia, Czech Republic and Georgia should pose little-to-no threat to the Spaniards, who won their second-consecutive Eurobasket in 2011
by defeating France in the final. Spain, even if stalwarts like Pau Gasol and Juan Carlos Navarro don't play, are still the odds-on favorite.