Ten of the 13 nations that will compete in the EuroBasket 2015 1st Qualification Round this August commence their campaign on Thursday, as the Group Round of the competition tips off.
Once action in the four groups concludes, following a round-robin system, the four teams that will emerge at the top of each pool will clash in pairs in the semi-finals, in home and away games.
The winner of Group A (A1) will clash with the winner of Group C (C1), while the top team in Group B (B1) will go up against the top team in Group D (D1); Teams B1 and D1 will play the return leg of their respective ties at home.
The teams that will emerge victorious from the two semi-final ties will meet in the final, which also consists of two legs, with the winning side claiming the big prize of this 1st Qualification Round: a direct ticket to EuroBasket 2015, in Ukraine.
In order to claim this highly-coveted prize however, contenders must first prevail in their respective groups, where there is very little margin for error as they are composed of just three or four teams each.
On paper, Bulgaria and Iceland are the favourites in the group, but Romania head coach Marcel Tenter is in very optimistic mood, placing extra importance on starting off with a win on Thursday at home, in the city of Constanta.
|Romania head coach Marcel Tenter likes his team's chances of advancing from Group A|
"We have a difficult group, but we have great confidence in these guys," Tenter said.
"We have prepared very well so far and I think we could make a surprise.
"Our opponents in Group A are quite uncomfortable. Bulgaria has grown considerably in recent times and Iceland has been, and remains, an unpredictable team.
"I am convinced however, that with the support of our fans in Constanta we can advance."
Tenter conducted the last stage of training camp with a group of 13 players at his disposal and said that he will keep all of them engaged until the end of Romania's campaign, deciding every time on his 12-man squad on a game-by-game basis.
"The guys have responded positively so far and that is why I decided to keep all the 13 athletes in training camp," the coach explained.
"We will present a roster of 12 players in each game, but I will make the choice right before tip-off, depending on the specific criteria and needs of each encounter."
During preparations, Switzerland head coach Petar Aleksic has had to discover ways of dealing with some important absences.
|Can't wait to get going: Oliver Vogt and his Swiss teammates|
NBA star Thabo Sefolosha meanwhile, of the Oklahoma City Thunder, decided not to play for his national team this summer.
"The team, consisting of players of various generations, has worked well since the beginning of training camp, in Serbia," Aleksic said.
"I sense a great desire from all of them.
"My goal is that all players, despite their young age, step up and take responsibilities."
Captain Oliver Vogt, one of the few veterans remaining in the Swiss side, said that his young team-mates are excited, rather than daunted by the task at hand.
"We are all impatient for the competition to start so that we can have a clear picture of where we stand," Vogt commented.
"I can feel that everyone on the team is very motivated."
The Group Stage of the EuroBasket 2015 1st Qualification Round will conclude on 16 August, with the semi-finals taking place on 22 and 25 August.
The first leg of the final will be on 29 August and the return leg on 1st September, three days before EuroBasket 2013 tips off in Slovenia.