Bulgaria returns to the European stage with a battle against the world champions

Bulgaria returns to the European stage with a battle against the world champions
Bulgaria returns to the European stage with a battle against the world champions

A whole 11 years have passed since the last moment when the men’s national basketball team of Bulgaria was in the center of attention of all European fans. 11 long years that spanned three consecutive missed championships on the Old Continent. The drought ends today as Rosen Barchovski’s Lions return to the stage to mark their presence at the opening of EuroBasket 2022. The Bulgarian team face none other than World Cup 2019 world champions Spain in a group match “A”, which starts at 14:30 Bulgarian time.

As is known, the tricolors are in a group with both “La Furia” and the teams of Turkey, Montenegro, Belgium and Georgia. Until the end of this week, our national team will play their matches against the Turks (September 3) and Montenegrins (September 4), and next week the decisive battles against the hosts from Georgia (September 6) and the Belgian team (September 7) are coming.

Bulgaria recorded a perfect balance in their first matches of the preliminary qualifiers for the European 2025, which took place just before the start of EuroBasket 2022. Alexander Vezenkov and company overcame Cyprus 88:55 and Romania 84:72 in succession to recorded their longest winning streak in a full five years with their two consecutive successes. Vezenkov was the great leader of the “lions” in these two meetings, after finishing with 24 points and 8 rebounds against the Cypriots and with the phenomenal 28 points, 15 rebounds and 7 assists against our northern neighbors.

Bulgaria arrived in Tbilisi with a group of 12 people, from which Konstantin Kostadinov, Ventsislav Petkov, Vasil Bachev and David Kravish, who had been training with the team for the last one month, dropped out at the last moment. From the previous composition of the Bulgarian team at EuroBasket 2011, only two figures remain – Chavdar Kostov and Alexander Yanev, who, together with the selector Rosen Barchovski, will once again lead the “lions” to the championship.

The experience will be combined with the youth in our composition, as the team will be able to count on two of its most prominent young players – the guard Ivan Alipiev and the center Emil Stoilov, who did a lot of “black” work in the last two matches of our team from the preliminary qualifications. Stoilov will have the opportunity to rotate with CSKA’s new signing Andrey Ivanov, who earned plenty of plaudits with his performance against Romania.

We’re all crossing our fingers to see the best of Dee Bost in his final games for the national team. As is known, the naturalized American will end his career with the “lions” team after the end of EuroBasket 2022. The point guard was not able to participate successfully in the match against Romania last week, but Rosen Barchovski himself said after the match that he expects of Bost to take responsibility and had no doubt that he would.

Whatever we write, it would still be little for the great star of Bulgarian basketball, Alexander Vezenkov. Specialists in Europe give Bulgaria chances to get out of the group stage precisely because of the presence of the member of the Ideal Five in the Euroleague, who closed the most glorious part of his career so far, after triumphing with the treble with the Olympiakos team in Greece, and was also elected MVP of the championship of our southern neighbor. There is no doubt in the influence of Vezenkov, and this is what the coach of Spain Sergio Scariolo also spoke about, who told his press conference that he should not allow the rest of his teammates to find their rhythm, while the defense of the world champions is tightly glued to Vezenkov .

World champions who have nothing in common with that squad from the summer of 2019 that brought the trophy to their showcase. The prominent pillars of the Spanish team Marc Gasol, Ricky Rubio, Victor Claver, Pierre Oriola and Sergio Lull are missing, and of their then 12-member group, the only ones who will play in EuroBasket 2022 are Rudy Fernandez and brothers Willy and Juancho Hernangomez. “La Furia” is going through a process of rejuvenation, with Sergio Scariolo once again repeating that the current team has absolutely nothing in common with the one in 2019, and that all comparisons with the previous generation of players are not relevant.

Despite looking more vulnerable than ever, the Spanish selection recorded two consecutive victories in the world qualifiers at the end of August, after successively beating not so pretentious rivals Iceland 87:57 and the Netherlands 86:64. Before that, however, the Spaniards conceded three defeats from their four controls – two losses to Lithuania and one to Greece. The only success of the world champions came over the “Hellenes” with 87:80 in Madrid, and in this match our southern neighbors were without their biggest star – Yannis Antetokounmpo.

The coach of Spain praised Bost and Vezenkov

The remaining two matches of the first round of group “A” will also take place today. At 5:15 p.m., Turkey faces Montenegro, and at 8:00 p.m., the first match of the home team from Georgia will take place against Belgium.

THE GROUP OF BULGARIA: Ivan Alipiev, Dee Bost, Deyan Karamfilov, Chavdar Kostov, Alexander Yanev, Emil Stoilov, Pavlin Ivanov, Stanimir Marinov, Andrey Ivanov, Alex Simeonov, Dimitar Dimitrov, Alexander Vezenkov

SPAIN’S GROUP: Lorenzo Braun, Jaime Pradia, Rudy Fernandez, Xabi Lopez-Arostegui, Jaime Fernandez, Dario Brizuela, Alberto Diaz, Sebas Sais, Ousmane Garuba, Willy Hernangomez, Juancho Hernangomez, Joel Parra

PROBABLE STARTING FIVE:

BULGARIA: Dee Bost, Ivan Alipiev, Chavdar Kostov, Alexander Vezenkov, Emil Stoilov

SPAIN: Lorenzo Brown, Xabi Lopez-Arostegui, Jaime Pradia, Juancho Hernangomez, Willy Hernangomez

Photo: Start photo


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