The basketball pride of Europe is on the line in EuroBasket 2005.
This year's EuroBasket, an event that takes place every two years, is being hosted by Serbia & Montenegro, in Belgrade. There are 16 countries in the 2005 Eurobasket touranment and 40 games played over a period of 10 days.
The previous EuroBasket competition, EuroBasket 2003, was won by Lithuania. Spain finished second, Italy third and France fourth.
Defending EuroBasket champion Lithuania will be without their star, Sarunas Jasikevicius, who recently just left his Maccabi Tel Aviv Israel team to join the NBA, signing with the Indiana Pacers and reportedly isn't playing. They will also be without Darius Songalia (NBA free agent) and Arvydas Macijauskas (New Orleans Hornets), who for whatever reason aren't playing.
After a disappointing showing in the 2004 Olympics, Serbia & Montenegro, which is always loaded with talent but in Eurobasket this year is even more packed than usual, wants nothing less than a championship. Even without star Peja Stojakovic (Sacramento Kings), who is not playing. Some NBA players on their roster in Eurobasket 2005 include Darko Milicic (Detroit Pistons), Nenad Krstic (New Jersey Nets), Marko Jaric (Minnesota Timberwolves), Dejan Bodiroga (veteran European star), Vladimir Radmanovic (Seattle Sonics free agent), and Zeljko Rebraca (Los Angeles Clippers).
The last big accomplishment for the Serbs was winning the 2002 World Basketball Championship, which took place in Indianapolis, United States.
Just recently, Israel managed to scrap its way into EuroBasket 2005. They were the final team to qualify for the tournament.
Dallas Mavericks superstar Dirk Nowitzki expects to carry the load for Germany.
France has Tony Parker (San Antonio Spurs) and Mickael Pietrus (Golden State Warriors) to help them win.
Croatia boasts the talent of Gordan Giricek (Orlando Magic), Mario Kasun (Orlando Magic), Roko Leni Ukic (property of Toronto Raptors) and Zoran Planinic (New Jersey Nets).
Memphis Grizzlies star Pau Gasol has a foot injury and won't be able to help Spain.
Turkey has a nice roster which includes Hedo Turkoglu (Orlando Magic), Mehmet Okur (Utah Jazz), Ibrahim Kutlay (former Seattle Sonic) and Mirsad Turkcan (former NBA player).
Andrei Kirilenko, versatile star of the Utah Jazz, is set for Russia. Viktor Khryapa and Sergei Monya, both of the Portland Trail Blazers, will help him.
The six teams that finish best in EuroBasket receive automatic births in the 2006 World Championships, which will be held in Japan. Serbia & Montenegro (formerly called Yugoslavia) has won two World Basketball Championships in a row.