Every second week leading up to EuroBasket 2013, fibaeurope.com's undercover expert ranks the 24 teams headed for Slovenia. Join the discussion on facebook now. This week France holds tight at the top whilst F.Y.R of Macedonia are on their way back up the ladder.
Disclaimer: These rankings in no way reflect any official ranking system. They are purely subjective and are intended to be viewed as such.
France remain at the top for another fortnight, despite the saddening news that Ludovic Vaty will have to make an unexpected retirement from the game and veteran forward Ali Traore has announced his intentions not to play this summer.
Spain's last remaining player in the NBA play-offs – Marc Gasol – has seen his season come to an end in a clean sweep at the conference finals. The big man has put in some serious minutes this season and fatigue could be a factor in the summer months.
As other teams continue to reel with withdrawals, Lithuania move into the top three on the power rankings for the first time. Thanks to some other key big men declaring their unavailability for other teams, Jonas Valanciunas' value subsequently rises.
Kostas Koufos' withdrawal is a major blow for the Greeks. Koufos is a workhorse for whom stats do not always convey just how much hustle he is able to provide. The Greek front court was already the weakest element of this team.
The Slovenian big men Uros Slokar, Bostjan Nachbar and Erazem Lorbek are keeping in shape as the only three members of the national team still involved in club basketball. Lorbek is not at his best right now but with Barcelona likely to reach the ACB finals, time remains for him to find form.
Russia have named their roster and, as expected, youth is the key here following the withdrawal of some key figures. Timofey Mozgov's inclusion is a highlight of the squad.
The theme this week is clear: diminishing front courts. This is nothing but good news for Montenegro with every withdrawal by an opposition big man adding to the value of their already daunting front court. A top-eight finish is within the former Yugoslav country's reach.
Milos Teodosic went down hard with a leg injury playing for CSKA Moscow in the VTB League but once the rumour mill dissipated, the news was a little more relieving for Serbian fans with an operation not required, keeping hope the backcourt maestro may be available in September.
Banvit BK have shocked any number of punters by making it to the final of championship series in the Beko TBL. However, with a predominantly foreign roster, their surprise run to the final does little to assist decisions regarding the national team.
The Serie A play-offs have thrown up no shortage of intrigue with a number of fiercely contested battles unfolding. With any number of series going to deciding fifth games Italian players won’t be short on experience at playing in clutch situations.
The Croatians have become one of the first teams to name their preliminary squad and fans of the southern European country definitely have one or two reasons for concern – namely the absence of Zoran Planinic and Marko Popovic.
There is no questioning the raft of young talent coming through for Germany but one thing you can not replace is experience. Steffen Hamann's retirement may not appear to be a big deal on the surface but his experience this summer would have been invaluable.
F.Y.R. OF MACEDONIA
F.Y.R of Macedonia players are beginning to renege on their previous retirement announcements seeing the former Yugoslav republic's stock begin to go skyward. Vlado Ilievski was first off the ranks and more may follow.
Bayern Munich are pushing Euroleague club Brose Baskets hard in the German Beko BBL semis with the series headed for a deciding fifth game - something Yotam Halperin has played a key role in. However with F.Y.R. Macedonia climbing, Israel fall despite it being no fault of their own.
BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
The final of the Bosnia and Herzegovina domestic league between Igokea and Siroki – which is currently tied at two games apiece – is acting of something of a national team trial with more than a few involved in the series arguably also playing for a spot in Slovenia.
Polish media are talking this team up highly, believing they are top-ten worthy. If their big men stay on board and with no other news out of Poland of late, it is difficult to find reason to disagree with them, hence their move up.
Whilst British basketball fans eagerly await the confirmation of whether or not Blazers center Joel Freeland will pull on a national team vest this summer, Pops Mensah-Bonsu’s move to Italy to receive more play-off experience somewhat backfired with Armani crashing out in the opening round of the domestic play-offs.
No news is good news for the Scandinavians with all players who are expected to be included on the Swedish preliminary roster completing their domestic campaigns with no major injury concerns to speak of.
Petteri Koponen was a revelation for Khimki for the majority of this season but when they came up against CSKA in the VTB League semi-finals, Koponen saw his time on the court drop dramatically as Khimki fell 3-2, doing no favours to the playmaker’s confidence.
Budivelnyk Kiev have just taken the Ukrainian title 4-3 from Azovmash, meaning Artur Drozdov may see more than one of his club teammates pulling on yellow and blue alongside him this summer.
CEZ Nymburk have reasserted their dominance at the top of Czech basketball, claiming a 10th consecutive domestic title. It therefore goes without saying that a number of players from their ranks are in line for national action this summer.
The relatively young club BC MIA Academy have claimed their first Georgian national league title and this could mean a number of their players may be in line for senior national team debuts, especially in the absence of some key personnel
Nearly all of Latvia's players have completed their domestic club duties and the good news is no major injuries for Ainars Bagatskis to worry about. Bagatskis also brings a winning mentality to the national squad, having just led Budivelnik to glory in Ukraine.
Axel Hervelle had his time in the Spanish domestic play-offs cut short with Bilabo Basket hustled out in the quarter-finals with straight losses, whilst Sam Van Rossom may be headed the same way with CAI Zaragoza trailing Real Madrid 2-0 in the semis.