The 2022 edition of the FIBA EuroBasket has been one of the most anticipated basketball championships in the past decade. After being delayed by exactly a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the tourney has now kicked off in four host countries.
Undoubtedly, the tournament marks very interesting records in international basketball. It is only the third edition of the EuroBasket to be co-hosted by four nations. This time, the Czech Republic, Georgia, Italy and Germany do the honours.
Besides, it’s the first championship since FIBA Europe announced that the basketball competition would be held on a four-year basis. Interestingly, this offers it some form of similarity to the Basketball World Cup and makes it just as prestigious, although on a continental level.
Qualifications for the 2022 competition began as far back as November 2017, when nine teams slugged it out in the pre-qualifiers. Surprisingly, despite getting an automatic qualification, the four host countries still participated in the qualifying rounds.
Bulgaria returns to EuroBasket for the first time since 2011, while Montenegro makes an unprecedented appearance, replacing Russia after the invasion of Ukraine. Ukraine will themselves be participating in the tourney, as will underdog defending champions Slovenia.
With the long wait now over and 24 teams all ready to compete, experts believe that this year’s edition will be the most thrilling in the past decade. Let’s look at some of the factors that make the 2022 championship stand out from the previous tournaments.
The Arrival of New Dark Horses
One of the biggest upsets in recent EuroBasket history was the victory of Slovenia at the 2017 championship. The defending champions shocked Spain in the semi-finals and further defeated Serbia, one of the competition’s favourites in the final. Not only did this event mark Slovenia’s first international trophy in professional basketball. It also triggered greater anticipation for dark horses.
One of such teams in Turkey. They recently gave world heavyweights the USA a run for their money at the 2019 FIBA World Cup. Other underdogs include the Czech Republic and co-host Georgia.
If there’s one thing that won’t be in short supply at this year’s EuroBasket, it’s the presence of top-tier players. There are about 35 NBA players taking up their country’s colours at the 2022 tournament. That includes Giannis Antetokoumpo who plays for Greece, Slovenia’s Luka Doncic and French star Rudy Gobert.
Lithuania also boasts reputable names like Domantas Sabonis and Jonas Valanciunas. For these top names, the tournament presents an opportunity to win the coveted MVP award. On the other hand, younger players have an opportunity to display their talent and get a shot at the EuroLeague or even the NBA draft. As an amateur, you can also go pro when you know more about basketball.
The Longer the Wait, the more Historic the Event
Fans have anticipated the 2022 FIBA EuroBasket tournament since 2017 when the pre-qualifiers started. This expectation intensified with the results of qualifiers trickling in between 2019 and early 2021. Originally, the competition was meant to feature 10 previous champions but for the replacement of Russia by Montenegro.
The worst performing teams in this year’s tourney are Great Britain and Montenegro whose best appearances at EuroBasket were 13th place finishes in 2013 and 2017, respectively. A lot of money has also been spent on marketing and preparation of host venues. With such a long time and large budget spent in preparing, it’s only expected that this year will be more sensational than previous editions.
Four Year Interval Rule
Pundits argue that the rarity of the World Cup and Olympics is an important factor in the prestige of these competitions. You’d agree that this line of thought is almost faultless. Teams in the NBA always have the opportunity to try again in the coming year. So, it’s not surprising to see irregularity in the form of players and game tactics.
But with a four-year interval competition, national teams understand that they have to give it all or nothing. Players who are edging close to retirement also perform optimally to secure silverware before hanging their boots. The next FIBA EuroBasket doesn’t happen until 2025, so teams don’t get to remedy their performance if things go south this year.
Betting On 2022 EuroBasket
There are several betting options for gamblers at the 2022 EuroBasket. You can place two-way bets where you select the country to win a particular fixture. Similarly, you can wager on the number of points to be scored by a player, a national team or both countries in a match. Bookmakers have fixed odds on these markets, giving you a chance to win real money on games, starting from the preliminary round to the final fixture. In this year’s tournament, it is expected that dark horses will inspire surprising results. Little wonder established and newer bookmakers are giving low-seeded teams quite favourable odds.
Final Thoughts on the 2022 FIBA EuroBasket
All the attention is now drawn to Prague, Tbilisi, Cologne, Milan, and later, Berlin for this prestigious competition featuring 24 of the finest basketballing teams in Europe. Thanks to the presence of world-class players and the long-standing anticipation, this tournament is billed to be one for the history books. Will it live up to the hype? Well, all news, results and schedules are here for you to follow the action of the 2022 EuroBasket Championship.