The field for the Second Round of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 European Qualifiers has been finalized with some fascinating matchups to look forward to.
Bosnia and Herzegovina were the last of the 24 teams to punch their tickets to the next phase with a victory over Bulgaria on Monday after the Czech Republic had completed a turnaround from a 0-3 start in the same group.
More drama unfolded as Sweden was left to thank Finland’s Lauri Markkanen for knocking down a game-winner against Croatia. There was similar agony for Poland as they were undone by a European Qualifiers scoring record of 38 points by Dennis Schroder.
Three teams entered the final window with a perfect record, but Montenegro beat France, Spain lost on the road against Georgia, and Lithuania suffered a loss at home to the Czech Republic in an exciting finish to the First Round.
The four Second Round groups are as follows:
Group I: Latvia, Belgium, Serbia, Greece, Turkey, Great Britain
Latvia starts with a 3-1 record alongside Greece at the top, with the potential return of Kristaps Porzingis to boost their chances. Perennial medal contenders Serbia may be left to rue a double defeat to Belgium as they only take a solitary win through with games against Greece and Turkey on the horizon in August.
Great Britain has reached the Second Round for the first time, while Belgium are also bidding to make it to the World Cup for the first time, and they have both proved they are capable of competing – and beating – some of the European powerhouse nations.
Group J: Finland, Slovenia, Sweden, Germany, Israel, Estonia
Luka Doncic put on a show for Slovenia again in the third window, and after missing out on the last World Cup, the reigning European champions are desperate to avoid a repeat. An intriguing matchup with 5-1 Germany awaits in August with an early chance to wrestle control.
Few may have predicted Finland would be taking five wins through to the next phase, but they deserve their record and had the added boost of having Lauri Markkanen back. Israel will look to break into the top three and make a long-awaited World Cup return, while Sweden and Estonia will be grateful for some time to recover from the drama of this window.
Group K: France, Montenegro, Hungary, Lithuania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Czech Republic
France and Lithuania are the frontrunners as they both take 5-1 records through having been two of the most impressive sides from the First Round. Should their form continue, that could leave the other four teams fighting for the final spot, and things could not be much tighter.
Montenegro has four wins to their name, while the Czech Republic, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Hungary all taking 3-3 records through, with the two latter sides having never appeared at a World Cup before. The Czechs, however, finished sixth on their debut back in 2019.
Group L: Georgia, Spain, Ukraine, Italy, Iceland, Netherlands
The reigning World Cup champions, Spain, were safely through and can look forward to two exciting matchups with The Azzurri. Italy’s one blemish to their record came at the hands of Iceland, which took a big step towards achieving their dream of reaching the World Cup.
Georgia defeated Spain en route to qualifying, while Ukraine will take confidence from their recent performances. The Netherlands is in an unfamiliar position of advancing without a win to their name as they face a mountain to climb in pursuit of a top-three spot.
The Second Round takes place across three windows in August 2022, November 2022, and February 2023, with the top three teams in each group qualifying for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023.