The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) recently unveiled the pools for the final stage of the 3x3 Europe Cup in Paris. Based on the federation ranking, the Estonian national team was put into one pool with familiar foes Slovenia and Poland.
Estonia was ranked 10th going into the draw and was placed in pool B with top seed Slovenia and Poland. The teams were also in the same pool in 2018 at the 3x3 FIBA World Cup in 2018, when Estonia defeated Poland, but was eliminated from the tournament due to point differential.
Estonian Basketball Association's 3x3 manager Reigo Kimmel noted that Slovenia is likely to join the tournament with the same squad they participated with in the qualification for the Tokyo Olympics. He noted that the Slovenian national squad has two players at least 10 years older than Estonia's 29-year old captain Jaan Puidet.
"With all due respect to Slovenian basketball and their legendary 3x3 players, I would be disappointed if we did not defeat them this time," Kimmel said.
In 2018, Estonia's 3x3 head coach Siim Raudla put together a gameplan to unravel Poland, leading to Estonia's victory. At the same time, the strong Polish squad will participate at the Tokyo Olympics.
When taking a look at the group stage, it must be considered that the two best teams from pool B will face off with those from pool D, consisting of Russia, the Netherlands and Israel.
"I believe they are better opponents for us in the quarterfinals than Lithuania, France, Belgium, Ukraine or Austria, who will play their matches in the other draw. We gave away a win to the Netherlands in the European championships qualification," Kimmel said, adding that reaching the final 12 for the Europe Cup final is an achievement in itself.
The FIBA 3x3 Europe Cup will conclude on September 10-12 with courts located in the gardens of the Trocadero in Paris with a view of the Eiffel Tower just on the opposite bank of the Seine.
The Estonian national team is made up of Karl-Johan Lips, Rauno Nurger, Jaan Puidet and Rait-Riivo Laane with Siim Raudla as the head coach.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste