Coming in to today’s EuroBasket 2013 Qualifiers four teams had their chance to earn spots, unfortunately, only Germany was able to take advantage, but three more, Poland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Czech Republic, were able to pick up theirs after various losses in and out of Groups assured teams they’d finish no lower than 3rd in their Group. Georgia and Sweden dropped tough games and have more work to do before booking any hotel rooms for next September, and while it isn’t official, Finland’s record along with a number of other variables should give them a spot even with their loss to Poland. With eight teams qualified, that leaves eight spots to fill.
Germany stays undefeated, locks up Group B with 79-69 win over Bulgaria
The Germans needed a win to assure themselves of a spot in the EuroBasket Final Round and did just that when they handled the Bulgarians, 79-69. A seat of their own is within reach for Bulgaria if they can beat the winless squad from Luxembourg on Saturday and increase their points for – points against ratio.
Germany built a comfortable nine-point margin at the half, 41-32, and saw that margin increase to 12 mid-way through the third quarter, before settling back into the same nine-point advantage going into the last quarter, 62-53.
Bulgaria worked their way back in to the contest and tied it up at 67 with 6:35 to play, but that was short-lived as the Germans went on a 12-2 run to close out the game 79-69.
Tibor Pleiß paced the host Germany 16 points and 14 rebounds, while teammate Heiko Schaffartzik also added 16 points. Maik Zirbes contributed 12 in the win. Bulgaria got 16 from Chavdar Kostoc, 14 from Aleksandar Georgiev and 11 from Ivan Lilov.
Sweden falls to Azerbaijan, 82-76
The Swedes traveled to Azerbaijan with an opportunity to lock up a trip to Slovenia for next year’s EuroBasket 2013 Tournament, but came up short when their hosts pulled away in the fourth quarter. The loss denies Sweden their ticket for now, but they beat Azerbaijan in a tie-breaker on margin of victory.
The game was fairly close throughout, but Azerbaijan had the upper hand for the entire first half. They had built a 25-19 advantage at the end of the first quarter, but Sweden cut that margin to 42-41 at the half.
The hosts scored the first four in the second half to extend their lead to 44-39, but then Sweden countered with five of their own to tie the game at 44. With 53 seconds to play in the quarter, the Swedes took the lead at 57-55. Azerbaijan put the game away by scoring 10 unanswered points over the last 47 seconds of the third and the first 52 seconds of the fourth, to go up by seven. Sweden was able to get to within three a couple of times in the quarter, but another late scoring run put the game away for the hosts.
Orhan Haciyeva led Azerbaijan with 28 points and 13 rebounds, Fuad Niftaliyev added 17 points, Rasim Bashak dropped in 13 and Charles Davis contributed 11. Jonas Jerebko paced Sweden with 20 points, Joakim Kjellbom added 19 points and 13 rebounds, Christian Marake contributed 15 points and T. Massamba scored 10 in the loss.
Poland beats Finland, 94-88, both get their ticket (probably)
Poland’s Marcin Gortat drained 27 points and snatched 21 rebounds in a 94-88 win over Finland, their first loss in the EuroBasket Qualification round. With Belgium’s loss to Switzerland, all Finland has to do is not lose to Belgium on Saturday by more than 23 points and they finish no lower than second, even losing their final game to Switzerland. If they lose to Belgium by more than 23 and Belgium also beats Albania, Finland will finish third, but their 5-3 record would qualify them (FIBA hasn’t called this one yet). Even if Poland should lose their last game to Albania (they won by 38 in the first round), they can finish with a record no worse than 5-3, which would qualify them for a 3rd place spot as well.
Finland jumped out to a 24-16 advantage in this contest, but would lose all three of the remaining quarters as Poland whittled away at the lead. At the end of the third quarter host Finland was up by three, 72-69. Mid-way through the final frame Poland went on a nine-point run to build a five point lead that Finland just couldn’t overcome and the visitors took the top spot in Group E with a 94-88 victory, Finland’s first loss drops them to 5-1, with games against Belgium and Switzerland remaining.
Gortat’s 27 points and 21 rebounds put him in a class all of his own for Poland. Teammates Przemyslaw Zamojski contributed 16 points, Dardan Berisha added 15, Lukasz Koszarek dropped in 14, and Michal Ignerski scored 10. Finland was led by Gerald Lee’s 20 points, along with Petteri Koponen’s 15 points and Shawn Huff’s 13.
Georgia gets ticket pulled away, BIH picks up theirs with 107-103 win
Anyone watching this contest got an exhibition on how to shoot as the Georgians and Bosnians dropped in shot after shot in the closing minutes. With the loss, Georgia now has to beat Latvia on Saturday by at least four to break a potential tie-breaker should Georgia lose their final game with the Netherlands and Latvia win their last game against the currently 1-5 Romanian squad. BIH hosts Romania on Saturday for their final contest, but even with a loss they can finish no worse than 5-3 and would qualify for one of the 3rd place spots. The first time the two met up in Romania the Bosnia and Herzegovina contingent came out on top of a 84-79 final score.
This was a close game from the start with BIH leading 20-16 after the first quarter, but Georgia taking a 43-40 advantage into the locker room at the half. The third quarter saw numerous lead changes and never a margin of more than six points.
With 1:47 left in the contest and Bosnia up by four, Nedzad Sinanovic was called on a foul on Zaza Pachulia under the basket. The Bosnians didn’t like the call and argued to the point that they were called with a team technical. That gave Georgia two free throws for the foul, two free throws for the technical and the ball out of bounds. They converted three of the four charity tosses and Pachulia took to the left baseline for a layup that put Georgia up by one, 100-99, with 1:09 to play. Nihad Dedovic drove the lay for BIH, got the lay-up and got fouled, then converted for the three-point play to give the visitors a two point margin. Manuchar Markoishvili nailed a three the next time down the court for Georgia to take back the lead, 103-102, but Mirza Teletovic sank his most important three points of his 25-point night on his next trip down the court to put BIH up for good and to shock the 9,000 fans that showed up in Tbilisi for the contest.
Teletovic’s 25 led Bosnia, Zackary Wright added 23, and Ante Masic contributed 21. Georgia got 23 from Markoishvili, 21 from Pachuilia, and 17 from Tornike Shengelia.
Czech Republic grab a spot with some help and a drubbing of Portugal, 90-71
The Czechs assured themselves a spot in the EuroBasket Finals with a victory at home against Portugal, who remains winless at 0-6, and with the Turkey loss to Italy. With a 5-2 record and only one game remaining against Turkey, they can finish with a record no worse than 5-3, which is what it’s going to take to get a 3rd place slot. The Czech’s hold an 18-point advantage in the tie-breaker over Turkey.
Portugal had built a nine-point advantage with 3:25 to play in the first quarter, but an 11-4 burst by the Czechs to close out the first 10 minutes shut the door on any hopes that Portugal would pick up it’s first win. By the end of the first half the hosts had amassed a 17-point margin that was too much for the Portuguese to make up.
David Jelinek’s 25 led all scorers while Czech teammates Jakub Kudlácek added 13 points and Pavel Pumprla dumped in 10. Portugal got 19 from Joao Santos, and 12 each from Paulo Cunha and Claudio Fonseca.
Italy comes from 18 down to sneak by Turkey, 83-82
Turkey let a golden opportunity slip through their fingers today when they lost an 18-point lead to the unbeaten Italians. They still had the game in hand with seconds left on the clock, but a blocked layup and a blown defensive assignment allowing an easy, open seven-foot jumper with three seconds left kept Italy’s record unblemished and Turkey fighting for their EuroBasket 2013 lives. The Turks have games with the Czech Republic and Portugal remaining, if they win both and beat CR by at least 19, they will get second in Group F. If they win, but by 18 or less they will make it through as a 3rd place qualifier. If they lose one of their remaining games, they will be in a mix of a few other .500 teams. That means that the Czech’s can grab second place even if they lose by 18 or less, assuming Turkey beats Portugal, who is 0-6 and lost to Turkey 74-62 the first time around.
Turkey jumped out to a 42-24 margin with 1:52 to play in the second half, but by the 2:12 mark in the third quarter, Italy had taken the lead 54-53. The Turks ran off nine straight to push the advantage back to eight and the squads went into the final stanza with a six point difference, 62-56.
Two minutes into the quarter the lead had grow back to 11, 70-59, then Italy rolled off seven unanswered points to cut the deficit to four 70-66 with 5:12 to play. A Daniel Hackett drive and lay-up with 1:08 reduced the lead to two, 80-78, but seconds later Sinan Güler was fouled, sank his two charity tosses and the lead was back to four. Hackett drained a three-points to knock the difference to one with 46 to play. Kerem Gönlüm had an opportunity to make it a two-possession game with an open lane, but his lay-up was blocked by Danilo Gallinari, who also got the loose ball and pushed it up the court. Luigi Datome took a pass at the top of the key, found an opening to his left, drove and pulled up for an easy, uncontested jumper from seven feet and ad the clocked ticked to seven seconds, it fell through giving Italy a one point margin. A last-second jumper by Ender Arslan was long and Italy escaped with a perfect 7-0 record.
Gallinari and Pietro Aradori lead the Italians with 19 points, Andrea Cinciarini added 17 points and Datome scored 10. Semih Erden was the top score for Turkey with 14, followed by Asian and Emir Preldzic with 12 each.
Montenegro stays perfect with win over Estonia, 76-67
The home crowd of 4,100 in Podgorica, Montenegro were treated to a tip to buzzer leading performance. The hosts put down the first 10 points of this contest and never looked back as they won every quarter and never relinquished the lead. Estonia still has an outside shot at qualifying for the EuroBasket Final Round, but it’s going to take winning both of their remaining games and some help in other Groups.
Montenegro was led by Vladimir Dasic’s 14 points and eight rebounds, while teammates Suad Sehovic, Sead Sehovic, and Bojan Dubljevic contributed 10 points each. Estonia got 12 from Gregor Arbet, 11 from Kristjan Kangur and Reinar Hallik, and 10 each from Janar Talts and Slim-Sander Vene.
Latvia moves one step closer to punching their ticket with win over the Netherlands, 86-81
Latvia got a big victory over the Dutch in front of a handful of fans (700) in the Netherlands, 86-81. The win solidifies Latvia’s chances of qualifying for the EuroBasket competition. Currently there’s a tie for the second spot with Georgia and Latvia holding identical 4-2 records, but with Latvia up by three in the tie-break. The two meet up in Lativa on Saturday in a matchup that will determine which team finishes second and which team will hold for a 3rd place spot. Fortunately for both, their records will put them in a solid spot for one of the four 3rd place qualifying spots. Latvia closes the competition with Romania (1-5), a team they defeated 89-53 the first time they played. Georgia hosts the Netherlands (2-5) at home on Sept. 11th and hopes to avenge an earlier 91-88 loss.
Latvia built a 33-17 margin in the first quarter, but the Netherlands kept chipping away and just ran out of time. Going into the fourth quarter they had reduced the lead to 12 and with 36 seconds to play got to within three, 84-81. With 13 clicks left, Latvia’s Darius Bertans missed a three-pointer, but was able to get his own rebound, so Robin Smeulders had to foul him to try to get the ball back. Bertans dropped in both free throws and sealed the win, 86-81.
Kaspara Berzins paced the Latvians with 21 points and eight rebounds, Rihards Kuksiks added 18 points, Bertans contributed 13. The Dutch were led by Henk Norel’s 24 points and 10 rebounds and got 22 from Smeulders.
Croatia remains undefeated with 84-80 win over Ukraine
Croatia used an 18-point advantage in the second quarter to notch their sixth straight win and lock up the top spot in Group C. In front of a home crowd of 2,200, the Croatians got lost three of the four quarters to the visiting Ukrainians, but the 28-10 second quarter was just too much to make up.
Croatia got 16 points from Luksa Andric, 15 from Bojan Bogdanovic, and 12 points and eight rebounds from Dario Saric. Steven Parker Burtt led the Ukraine squad with 22 points, Sergii Gladyr added 14, and Viacheslav Kravtsov contributed 10.
Serbia keeps qualifying hopes alive with victory over Slovak Republic, 87-62
The Serbs won all four quarters in a 25-point rout of the visiting Slovak Republic. After a 22-10 first quarter, the hosts piled on a few more points each quarter to cruise to a comfortable result. Serbia has two contests remaining and sit in a tie with Israel at 5-3 in Group A. Israel holds a 13-point margin in the tie-break, that could possibly be settled in Serbia on the last day of the competition, Sept. 11. Prior to that match up the Serbs have to travel to Estonia, who only sit one game down at 4-4. If the Estonians can avenge an 88-63 loss in Serbia and take their final game at home against Iceland (1-7) on Sept. 11, they have a solid shot at moving on.
Serbia picked up 20 points from Nemanja Nedovic, 11 from Nemanja Bjelica, and 10 each from Zoran Erceg and Vladimir Stimac. The Slovakians were led by Martin Bilik’s 16 points.
Israel stays in the hunt with win over Iceland, 92-75
The Israeli squad did their part to keep things interesting for the chasing pack of Group A with a convincing 92-75 win at home against Iceland, who drops to 1-7 with the loss. Israel improved to 5-3 with games against the Slovak Republic on Saturday and closing out the Qualification Round with a trip to Serbia on Sept. 11. In the tie-breakers, Israel sits in the best position having beaten Estonia twice and having a 13-point advantage over Serbia after their first contest. If they can take at least one of their last two games, they will most likely finish no lower than third in Group A. If Estonia beats Serbia on Saturday, Israel would move into second place based on tie-breakers, and the last game determining all positions.
Iceland opened the contest with a 20-17 advantage at the end of the first quarter. In the second, they extended the lead to as much as seven, before Israel took over. With 3:19 remaining in the first half the hosts took over the lead and never gave it back, cruising to a 17-point win.
Omri Casspi led Israel’s effort with 22 points, Lior Eliyahu added 20 points and 11 rebounds, and Alexander Tyus contributed 19 points and 10 rebounds. Iceland got 21 points from Jakob Sigurdarson, 20 from Jon Stefansson, and 10 each from Finnur Magnússon and Pavel Ermolinskij.
Belgium takes one on the chin in 82-73 loss to Switzerland
Coming in to this Group E contest the Belgians had a solid shot at booking a trip to Slovenia next September, now they have some work to do after the host team Switzerland used a nine-point advantage in the first half to grab an 82-73 win. The loss drops Belgium to 3-3 with games against Finland (5-1) and Albania (0-6), and moves the Swiss to 3-4 with their final game against Finland. It’s doubtful that Switzerland will qualify in the 3rd spot with a 4-4 record due to their points for/against ratio, but the Belgians have a shot at a 5-3 record, which would definitely get them in. Should they lose to Finland, which they did the first time around 97-60, but beat Albania, which they did in the first round 97-59, and keep their points for/against in those to contests even similar to what they were, they will get in with a 4-4 record. They currently hold a 465/431 for/against record, which is one of the best of the potential 3rd place finishers.
The Swiss took a 45-37 margin into the locker room at the half and the teams played to a 14-14 tie in the third quarter to keep the eight-point margin intact. Belgium got to within four with 1:04 to play, but the Swiss were able to hit their free throws down the stretch as the Belgians had to resort to fouling to get the ball back.
Switzerland was paced by Stefan Petkovic’s 25 points, while teammate Dusan Mladjan added 19 points and seven rebounds, and Oliver Vogt contributed 17. Belgium got 17 from Beye Tabu-Eboma, 14 each from Sam Van Rossom and Christophe Beghin.
Austria gets solid win over Hungary, 97-81, but are eliminated
The Austrians came into todays game with a slim shot at being a 3rd place qualifier, but after a combination of wins in other Groups, four losses will not do the job. They did get a solid 97-81 win over Hungary though, but it was too little, too late. Hungary has been eliminated as well with four losses.
The Austrians used a 27-15 first quarter advantage to win this one as the two teams basically played even basketball for the last three quarters. The first time the two squad locked horns Hungary came out on top 81-75.
Austria was led by Rasid Mahalbasic’s 21 points, Thomas Schreiner added 20 points and nine rebounds, Jason Detrick dropped in 19 points, and Christoph Nagler contributed 12 to the win. Hungary got 20 from Adam Hanga, 16 from Obie Trotter and Miklós Szabó, and 14 from Akos Horvath.
(Ed. note – As of this morning, FIBA has determined that Poland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Czech Republic have also qualified due to a variety of circumstances, the article has been updated to reflect those changes.)
Photos Courtesy of FIBA