The doors are slowly closing on the EuroBasket 2017 Qualifiers. Four more nations progressed to next summer’s international event during Day 5 of the qualifiers on Wednesday. Belgium, Slovenia, Montenegro and Hungary all booked their passage to the continental championships. The quartet join Russia, which punched its ticket to the tournament last week.
In their success tonight, Belgium, Slovenia, Montenegro and Hungary all stayed unbeaten in the EuroBasket 2017 Qualifiers through five games.
Belgium took its place in EuroBasket 2017 with a commanding Group A performance, nailing Switzerland 87-49 to spark the celebrations. Bilbao’s Jonathan Tabu set the scoring rhythm in the win with a 20 point haul for the Belgians. Iceland managed to move close to qualification with an 84-62 win over Cyprus. The win means the country stays in second place with a 3-2 record and can be among the four teams sweating on a best-second placed finish berth.
The story of Group B now looks to Netherlands and Germany. The two rivals will play a do-or-die contest on Saturday to decide which will progress from the EuroBasket 2017 Qualifiers. Germany was too strong for Austria, using a 78-58 win to move to 2-2, while also avoiding elimination. Johannes Voigtmann claimed a double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds in the success. Netherlands stayed top of the group with 98-88 high scoring game against Denmark. Victory moved the team to 4-1, but the Dutch needed a rally at the end of an entertaining contest.
Bosnia and Herzegovina played out a tight classic against Sweden, eventually edging the game by a narrow 76-78. The country now sits in second place behind qualified Russia and will see what happens Saturday to decide its future as one of the best second-place teams. Nemanja Gordic pushed the team with a strong all floor effort of 13 points, 6 boards, and 4 scoring passes.
Poland was hunting qualification tonight, but needed to beat Belarus. Instead, the Belarussians went into Poland and took a handy 57-76 win. Poland still dominates first place with a 4-1 record, and can wrap up the group with a win over Estonia on the weekend. Belarus is now putting pressure on the Poles in second place with a 3-2 record. Estonia put itself in contention with an 82-63 dismantling of Portugal. The country can give itself a big chance by beating Poland in the next game.
Slovenia stayed untouched in the Qualifiers and eased into EuroBasket 2017 next summer with an 85-63 home victory over Bulgaria. The hosts went 5-0 at the top of Group E as Goran Dragic put in a vintage offensive performance with a double-double of 17 points and 10 assists. Ukraine destroyed Kosovo 100-61 and is sitting pretty on 4-1 as one of the best second-placed teams. Olexandr Mishula was hot from distance, plundering 5-for-9 beyond the arc on his way to 21 points.
Like Ukraine, Georgia is on 4-1 in second place in Group F and is nearing qualification. The team was stunning in its 96-68 win over down and out Slovakia. Tornike Shengelia of Baskonia put together an eye-catching personal performance of 31 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block. Georgia can book its place in the tournament and win the group with a win over already qualified Montenegro on Saturday. The Montenegrins crushed Albania 94-56 to stay unbeaten.
Hungary also remained unblemished as it swept into EuroBasket 2017. The team edged out Luxemburg 65-68 on the road to book its place and confirm first place in the group. Great Britain will be sweating on qualification as a second place team after overcoming Macedonia 62-89 with a solid away performance. The country now moved to 3-2 in second place.