STA, 25 November - The Slovenian men's basketball team will start the qualifying cycle for the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup on Thursday as the second-ranked team in Europe and fourth in the FIBA world rankings is hosted by Croatia in Zagreb.
The Slovenian team will play up to 12 qualifying games in the next 15 months, starting with games against Croatia and against Sweden in Koper on Sunday.
The next FIBA Basketball World Cup will take place between 25 August and 10 September 2023, hosted by Indonesia, Japan and the Philippines, where 32 national teams will compete for the championship, including 12 from Europe.
The European qualifiers feature 32 teams, divided into eight groups, with each team will playing six games in the first group stage, from where the top three teams from each group qualify for the next stage.
The same process will be repeated in the next stage, but with only four groups, and the top three teams from each group will qualify for the World Cup, amounting to a total of 12 European national teams.
Slovenia begins the first group stage in group C, competing with Croatia, Finland and Sweden. Should they qualify for the next stage, potential opponents include Germany, Israel, Estonia and Poland.
Slovenia enter the qualifiers as the fourth best team in the world in FIBA rankings, behind the US, Spain and Australia.
The team will start the qualifiers without several prominent members of the Tokyo Olympics team, which won the fourth place, including Luka Dončić, Vlatko Čančar, Mike Tobey, Zoran Dragić and Gregor Hrovat.
Featured in the roster for the first two games are Jaka Blažič, Jakob Čebašek, Žiga Dimec, Blaž Habot, Alen Hodžić, Jan Kosi, Luka Lapornik, Miha Lapornik, Jurij Macura, Edo Murić, Aleksej Nikolić, Klemen Prepelič, Matic Rebec and Luka Rupnik.
After this week's games, the qualifying cycle will continue in February 2022, with the first group stage concluding in the early summer of 2022. The second group stage starts in August 2022 and will be completed by February 2023.
Should Slovenia qualify for the World Cup, it will be their fourth appearance after coming ninth in Japan in 2006, eighth in Turkey in 2010, and seventh in Spain in 2014.