by Joey Phillips

Olympic qualifying is set to begin, a loaded European Group 1 will be battling to guarantee their spot in the Olympiad set to take place later this year. With 7 talented teams in a loaded pool, who will clinch their spot for a chance at the gold medal? 

Group Members

  • Serbia

  • Greece

  • Italy

  • Croatia

  • Belgium

  • Netherlands

  • Ireland 

Team Previews


After advancing out of group play in the World Cup, Serbia fell just short of the title with a quarterfinals exit. Led by Tim Riggins, Hoe Jarris, and Aaron Ike, the Serbian national team will look to replicate their group play success from just a year ago. Serbia could easily win this group due to their offensive firepower - they led the World Cup with a 133.7 offensive rating across their 5 games played.

Key Players

Tim Riggins - 18.2 PPG / 6.6 APG / 4.0 RPG

Hoe Jarris - 13.6 PPG / 4.8 APG / 2.2 RPG

Aaron Ike - 11.2 PPG / 13.8 RPG / 1.4 BPG


The World Cup runners up from a season ago look for a shot at redemption with Olympic gold on the line. A stellar offensive unit, the Greeks ranked second in points scored per game during their World Cup run led by double-double machine Apple B. Evans of the Ohio Shaman. With a full season of development under his belt, I will be interested to see if the Greece coaching staff finds a way to get rookie standout Ricky Spyder more involved this go around after averaging only 13 minutes per game in the World Cup. Can Greece redeem themselves with a strong group showing or will they get caught in the crowded group?

Key Players

Apple B. Evans - 15.8 PPG / 10.9 RPG / 0.9 BPG

Acid Law V - 12.1 PPG / 2.0 RPG / 6.0 APG

Damien Chambers - 12.5 PPG / 3.7 RPG / 3.7 APG


Team Italy advanced out of their group in the World Cup before being dispatched in round 1 of the knockout stage. A GSB/NBA pairing of Coco Raccoon and Nico Mannion powered Italy a top 10 net rating in the World Cup but it was not enough for them to make a deep run at the cup. Will they be able to find more cohesion as a unit against a loaded group all around? 

Key Players

Nico Mannion - 22.3 PPG / 5.3 APG / 1.3 RPG

Coco Raccoon - 11.3 PPG / 4.5 APG / 4.3 RPG

Mario Medici - 10.5 PPG / 19.8 RPG / 2.0 BPG


After an exit in the group stage during World Cup play, Team Croatia will be looking for a different run of form as they eye Olympic Gold. Led by GSB stars Sasha Petrovic and Jason Bourne, the Croatians were joined by a fair bit of NBA talent in the World Cup including Bogdanovic, Saric, and Zubac. Their biggest struggle last time out was their lack of shooting consistency as they finished in the bottom 10 for field goal percentage. Has their coaching staff cooked up a way to get more consistent offensive looks? 

Key Players 

Sasha Petrovic - 19.3 PPG / 4.3 APG / 3.7 RPG

Jason Bourne - 16.7 PPG / 10.0 RPG / 2.0 APG

Bojan Bogdanovic - 13.0 PPG / 3.0 RPG / 0.7 SPG


It was the Marvin Metreaux show for the Belgian National Team in their World Cup debut as the big man led the way with over 21 points and 23 rebounds per contest. Unfortunately, it was not nearly enough for them as they were dispatched in the group stage during World Cup play. Has the coaching staff been able to develop more chemistry with the support around him to view themselves as a dark horse in a daunting group?

Key Players

Marvin Metreaux - 21.7 PPG / 23.0 RPG 1.0 BOG

Frank Ntilikina - 16.3 PPG / 2.7 APG / 2.7 RPG

Ismael Bako - 11.3 PPG / 4.7 RPG / 1.3 APG


Similar to many of their group mates, the Dutch were knocked out in the group stage of the World Cup just a season ago. Led by GSB star Braden Hartjes, the Netherlands are in a very similar spot to Belgium - they need more help around their star man. Chalon Kloof was a nice complimentary piece to Hartjes but to be a true threat in this group, they will need more talent. 

Key Players

Braden Hartjes - 14.7 PPG / 16.0 RPG / 1.0 APG

Worthy De Jong - 11.3 PPG / 3.7 APG / 3.7 RPG

Chalon Kloof - 21.7 PPG / 3.7 APG / 2.7 RPG


Perhaps viewed as a dark horse in the group, the public may have forgotten that Ireland advanced out of group play and even the on a knockout round game in the World Cup. The key change for them since the last international break is the emergence of Anthony Stank. The GSB star just powered to a title less than a month ago and now eyes Olympic gold. With the likes of Anthony Stover, Josh Young, and Bear Johnson, this team should be poised to qualify for a shot at Gold. 

Key Players

Anthony Stank - 12.6 PPG / 4.4 APG / 1.4 RPG

Josh Young Two.o - 14.0 PPG / 5.6 RPG / 3.2 APG

Bear Johnson - 10.2 PPG / 12.4 RPG / 1.2 BPG

Standings Prediction

  1. Ireland

  2. Serbia 

  3. Greece

  4. Italy

  5. Belgium

  6. Croatia

  7. Netherlands


I like Ireland to win a competitive group with Serbia and World Cup Runners Up Greece close behind. The battle for the 4 spot should be interesting as Italy appeared the strongest in World Cup play but any of these teams could be vying for a last ditch effort with a playoff game on the line.