Phoenix Suns center Marcin Gortat was the best big man in this year's qualifying tournament for Eurobasket 2013, which will be hosted by the Suns' Goran Dragic's Slovenia next year. Check out the short video preview (after the jump), Slovenian National Team style.
Gortat led Poland to a 6-2 record (including their last 5 consecutive), winning Group E and guaranteeing a spot in the 24-team field for the European Championships next year. In all, 16 of the 24 teams had qualify for Eurobasket 2013 this fall. The eight teams already in are the host country (Slovenia) and the 7 Euro teams who played in this year's Olympics - F.Y.R. of Macedonia, France, Great Britain, Greece, Lithuania, Russia and Spain.
The Polish Hammer finished fourth in the Qualifying tourney in scoring (21.1 per game), second in rebounding (11.6) and second in blocks (2.3) amongst all players in the 30-team field. He finished top-10 in 13 different statistical categories for the tourney, missing on only volume-related minutes-per-game (#20) and field goals attempted (#16). The Polish Hammer was extremely efficient throughout the entire tourney, and finished with a double-double in six of eight qualifying games.
We still don't know if Gortat will suddenly stop scoring without Nash feeding him the ball, but evidence shows that Gortat has been able to score in other situations without Nash. Despite being double and triple-teamed in this and previous Euro tourneys, Gortat has been able to score well (18.9 ppg in Eurobasket 2011, 14.3 ppg in Eurobasket 2009). And in limited action as Dwight Howard's backup in Orlando, Gortat showed an ability to score.
Cross your fingers that he won't suddenly become an 8 ppg player, but feel comfortable that Gortat will still bring rebounding, blocks and toughness no matter what. If nothing else, Gortat will get some points off Dragic's penetration and pick-and-roll action. Gortat is an opportunist, meaning he finds ways to get easy scores. That won't stop.
Here's Slovenia's preview for Eurbasket 2013. Recognize anyone?
So now we have a showdown to preview all year - will Dragic's Slovenia and/or Gortat's Poland find a way to bring their country a medal next fall? or will Luis Scola's Argentina?
We have friendly rivalries about to bud this next season.
Let's hope they become great teammates on the Suns first.