Estonian men's basketball team face World Cup qualifiers without top names

Estonia versus Finland FIBA World Cup qualifier at the Saku Suurhall, Sunday, August 28 2022.
Estonia versus Finland FIBA World Cup qualifier at the Saku Suurhall, Sunday, August 28 2022. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

The Estonian men's basketball team are set to play the final two matches of their 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup qualifying campaign this week. Estonia first take on Slovenia at home on Friday, February 24, before traveling to Sweden for their final qualifier on Monday, February 27. However, the team will be missing several big names.

At the end of last week, Estonian men's national basketball team head coach Jukka Toijala announced, that key players Matthias Tass (Baxi Manresa), Siim-Sander Vene (Hapoel Jerusalem) and Rauno Nurger (Kalev/Cramo) are all set to miss the upcoming FIBA World Cup qualifiers against Slovenia and Sweden.

 "Unfortunately, we have another problem with injuries, especially in the forward department. With the absence of Tass, Vene and Nurger, our squad will be even younger, but we will accept the challenge and it will give some different players a chance to show themselves again," Toijala said.

Siim-Markus Post (KK Viimsi) and Rain Veideman (BC Tallinna Kalev) will also be absent from the squad for the two qualifiers.

"The selection of back-up players is similar to last time. As far as playmakers are concerned, we are looking at Kullamäe (BC 7bet-Lietkabelis), Rosenthal (University of Tartu Maks & Moorits) and Suurorg (Joventut Badalona). If we are talking about Veideman, we made a similar choice last time. I have spoken to Rain about it,  and explained, that this time Riismaa (Happy Casa Brindisi), Jurkatamm (Nutribullet Treviso Basket), Valge (Pärnu Sadam) and Böckler (University of Tartu Maks & Moorits) will get a chance again. These choices are always difficult and on this occasion we decided to do it like that, but the door is certainly not closed to anyone," Toijala explained.

After ten matches, Estonia are currently in last position of their six-team qualifying group, meaning they are unable to make it through to the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup.

The full squad for the Estonian men's national basketball team for the upcoming FIBA Basketball World Cup qualifiers against Slovenia and Sweden:

Kristian Kullamäe (194 cm, BC 7bet-Lietkabelis)

Märt Rosenthal (192 cm, University of Tartu Maks & Moorits)

Kasper Suurorg (200 cm, Joventut Badalona)

Joonas Riismaa (199 cm, Happy Casa Brindisi)

Robert Valge (192 cm, Pärnu Sadam)

Mikk Jurkatamm (196 cm, Nutribullet Treviso Basket)

Leemet Böckler (198 cm, University of Tartu Maks & Moorits)

Hugo Toom (200 cm, BC Kalev/Cramo)

Artur Konontšuk (200 cm, BC Kalev/Cramo)

Kaspar Treier (204 cm, Dinamo Sassari)

Kregor Hermet (205 cm, BC Kalev/Cramo)

Kristjan Kitsing (205 cm, BC Kalev/Cramo)

Taavi Jurkatamm (204 cm, BC Kalev/Cramo)

Mihkel Kirves (200 cm, Pärnu Sadam)


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Editor: Michael Cole

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