The Greek National Team didn’t play in the 2007 European Championship in Barcelona, Spain and had to qualify through the Qualifier in Abrantes, Portugal in 2008, edging out Russia, Ireland and Portugal on its way to Stuttgart, Heidenheim and Neuenburg. In 2010 they are slotted into Group B together with Italy, Spain, Sweden, Croatia and Great Britain. Mister-Baseball talked with manager Tom Mazarakis about the upcoming tournament.
Mister-Baseball: What do you expect from your team in Stuttgart, Heidenheim and Neuenburg?
Tom Mazarakis: I expect our team to do well in all 3 cities and against all our opponents. All the countries in this tournament have excellent teams and I believe that each of them can win any of their games. I believe that Greece will have a very competitive team and our primary goal is to place first in our group.
MRBB: Can a team challenge defending Champion Netherlands in the 2010 European Championship? Which teams have the best chances of advancing in your group?
TM: If we look at the recent results of the Football World Cup in South Africa, all the favorite teams (Brazil, Argentina, Germany, and England) were eliminated by what were thought to be inferior ones. The same could easily take place in this European Senior’s Championship. Therefore, yes, I believe that several teams can challenge the defending champions. In my opinion Italy, Spain, the Czech Republic, Germany, the United Kingdom, and, of course, Greece are all capable of upsetting the defending champions. I believe that the teams that will advance in our group are going to be Greece, Italy, and Spain.
MRBB: Which team could be the surprise of the tournament?
TM: I think that Greece may very well be the surprise of the tournament.
MRBB: General speaking is the level of play in European Baseball getting better and more balanced since the EC 2007 or is there still a gap between the top teams and the underdogs?
TM: This is something that I want to believe and towards that end we have tried our best to upgrade the level of our play. I expect that the other teams in this tournament will also be fielding excellent teams and this will bring a better balance amongst all the teams. However, this remains to be seen.
MRBB: There will be only a few professional players in the tournament. Does this will have an influence and does it hurt some teams more than others?
TM: This development will probably help the traditionally strong teams of The Netherlands and Italy more than the other teams. As a consequence, while this may bring those teams a notch or two lower, it will simultaneously allow the other teams the opportunity to compete on a more level playing field.
MRBB: Looking at the rosters of the other teams, which players could be especially worthy to watch?
TM: Unfortunately, I have not seen the rosters of the other teams yet.
MRBB: What is your plan for the final days before the Euro 2010? Which exhibition games do you have planned?
TM: We will not be competing in any exhibition games, but will concentrate on practicing and working on our strategic plans for each game.
MRBB: Do you already have a starting lineup in place and who will be in your starting rotation?
TM: We have not yet formulated our starting lineup or our starting rotation. This will probably be finalized a day or two prior to the tournament.
Mister-Baseball thanks Tom Mazarakis for answering our questions and wishes good luck in the European Championship.