The next phase for the Austrian basketball men begins today (7:30 p.m.) on a long road that, in the best case scenario, will culminate in participation in the 2025 European Championship. The second round of pre-qualification starts in Freiburg against Switzerland, followed by a duel with Poland in Multiversum Schwechat on Sunday (17:00, live ORF Sport +). The Polish team, like Croatia, is the third opponent in Group E, a participant in the continental finals, which will be played this year from 1 to 18. September in Germany, Italy, Georgia and the Czech Republic.
Christopher O’Shea made his debut as the head coach of the Austrian national team. The 41-year-old follows in the footsteps of Raoul Korner, who will not be released from his new club Hamburg Towers. However, the task of his first game could be easier, as only the winners of the three four-man groups and Cyprus, as hosts of EuroBasket 2025, reach the “real” European Championship qualification. All other teams must qualify for the third qualifying round.
The Austrians will have to do without basketball legend Jakob Pöltl. The center, who returned to action after a four-year layoff earlier this summer against Ireland and Cyprus, will not be eligible this time as he prepares for his seventh NBA season in the United States. Playmaker Bogic Vujosevic must also pass. That’s why captain Thomas Klepeisz joined the team on Sunday.
“The training week was very good. The enthusiasm and energy of the players to work here is high. It is one of the most important things that the energy and team spirit is high. It is important to bring that energy to the field and to keep the pace and play with great enthusiasm and pressure in defense”, coach O’ Shea told the tactics.
Austria still has points to settle with Switzerland from the first qualifying round. After an 80-64 victory in the first leg, the situation was 61-80 at the end of February, also in Freiburg. Nevertheless, Enis Murati is in a positive mood: “I think we have a very good chance and of course it would be very good if we could start this stage with a win.”
Other games in Group E increase in November, then again against Switzerland and Croatia. In February 2023, the Austrians will then have to face Poland and Croatia away from home.(apa/tbr)