Georgia took advantage of game eight of the EuroBasket 2013 Qualification Round to punch their tickets to the Finals with a 73-70 win over Latvia. Georgia was the only team that was able to definitively qualify, leaving six openings for the rest of the teams to fight for on the last day of competition, Tuesday, Sept. 11. There were a number of down-to-the-wire contests during the eight day competition, including a buzzer-beater in Hungary. We’ll wrap up the action in each Group and present the scenarios for the final day.
Montenegro continued their thrashing of the A Group yesterday when they came back from a 22-point deficit at halftime to deny Iceland of what would have been one of the upsets of the EuroBasket 2013 Qualification Round. The win bumped Montenegro to 9-0 while pushing Iceland to 1-8. Vladimir Dasic put the visiting squad on his shoulders and carried them to their ninth straight win with a 38 point, 14 rebound performance. His night included connecting with 13 of 16 free throws, five out of seven three-pointers, 10 for 16 inside the arc and he grabbed 12 defensive rebounds. Dasic wasn’t the only member of the squad to impress though, teammate Taylor Rochestie dropped in 31. Iceland’s Jon Stefansson contributed 32 of the host’s points and Heigl Magnusson added 22 points and nine rebounds. Montenegro concludes the competition when they host the Slovak Republic on Sept. 11, and Iceland travels to Estonia to complete their competition.
Serbia traveled to Estonia for game nine and came up on the short end of an 88-81 contest. The Serbian loss brings both squads to identical 5-4 records and sets up an interesting final day of competition as Serbia is up by 18 over Estonia in the tie-breaker and is down by 13 to Israel. Serbia got out to a 22-16 advantage at the end of the first quarter and held on to the lead as the teams took their break at the half, 43-41. Estonia tied it up at the end of the third and with 7:45 to play the score was still tied, this time at 68. That’s where Estonia took control and ran off 10 straight points to go up 78-68 with 4:02 on the clock. Serbia got within three with 31 seconds left, but Estonia hit three of four from the charity stripe to put the game away, 88-81. Estonia got 18 from Kristjan Kangur, 17 from Gregor Arbet, and 15 points and 10 rebounds from Slim-Sander Vene. Serbia was lead by Nenad Krstic’s 20 points and nine rebounds, and 16 each from Milos Teodosic and Milenko Tepic.
Israel made a statement in their ninth game with a 101-73 pounding of Slovakia at home. The Israelis won every quarter of this game and take a 6-3 record into the final contest at Serbia. Israel had six in double figures including Lior Eliyahu’s triple double – 18 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists; Omri Casspi added 18 points; Alexander Tyus added 16 of his own and collected 11 rebounds. Jozef Vojtek led the Slovakians with 17 points and Dusan Pandula dropped in 14.
Last game scenarios:
If Israel wins on Tuesday over Serbia it gives Israel 2nd place in the group at 7-3, dropping Serbia to 5-5 with a solid F/A ratio (currently at 763/654), if Estonia beats Iceland they’d end up 6-4 and in third place and needing help from other groups to qualify. If Estonia loses, Serbia would end up in third and needing a lot of help from other groups, but they would beat most teams with a 4-4 record with their F/A. An Israel loss to Serbia by less than 13 points still gives them second because they lead Serbia by 13 in the tie-breaker and beat Estonia by 29. Serbia has won the tie-breaker with Estonia by 18, so if Serbia wins, Estonia is out.
Germany kept their unblemished record intact with a 91-86 win on the road against Sweden. The Swedes got out to a 26-21 margin after the first and carried a slim single point advantage into the break, 43-42. They stretched the lead to three going into the final stanza, 67-64. As the clock ticked away at the last 10 minutes, Sweden built their margin to eight, 79-71, but then the bottom fell out from under them and they saw that advantage disappear in a mere 90 seconds when the Germans knotted the contest at 79. They exchanged the lead five times over the next four minutes, but a three-ball by Heiko Schaffartzik with 25 on the clock sealed the deal for Germany. Schaffartzik led the Germans with 21, Robin Benzing added 19, and Tibor Pleiß and Jan-Hendrik Jagla dropped in 16 each. Sweden got an impressive 32 points and 10 rebounds from Jonas Jerebko, and 21 points from Kenny Grant.
Bulgaria wrapped up their EuroBasket 2013 Qualification Round with a solid win over Luxembourg, 120-95, in the process they kept themselves mathematically in the picture, with a lot of help from within their group as well as outside it… The Bulgarians jumped out to a 30-21 advantage at the end of the first quarter and still held a slim 56-52 margin at the half. In the third quarter they grew tired of their visitors hanging around and put some distance on with a 23-12 quarter. They added to their F/A ratio with another 10-point advantage in the fourth quarter and will now sit back and wait to see what happens around the tournament to see if they can qualify. The Bulgarian squad does have some extra motivation after their head coach Rosen Barchovski announced that he will be resigning after the EuroBasket 2013 Qualification Round.
Last game scenarios:
Bulgaria could finish as high as second if both Sweden and Azerbaijan lose on Tuesday as they beat Azerbaijan by 2 in the tie break and a Sweden loss to Luxembourg would put the Sweds at 3-5. If Sweden wins, they will finish second if Azerbaijan loses as they win that tie-break by 11. Sweden wins the tie-break over Bulgaria by 1, so if they win they finish 2nd and if Azerbaijan loses with Bulgaria winning, Bulgaria would be 3rd and Azerbaijan would be fourth. Bulgaria has a decent F/A (669/647) so any other 4-4 teams in the competition would have to do better if it gets to 4-4 teams (and it’s looking like it could). Azerbaijan’s F/A of 590/579 needs to be boosted a bit on Tuesday, but the ratio is good Sweden is at 593/556. As a point of reference, Germany beat Azerbaijan by 17 the first round and Sweden beat Luxembourg 111-74.
Hungary came into Saturday’s game in a must-win situation and thrilled their home crowd with four solid quarters of basketball, but there’s a reason for final buzzers and a reason every basketball player on the planet practices hitting a shot at that buzzer. Croatia’s Roko Kenu Ukic got that opportunity when he was brought in with nine seconds left in the contest for 18 yr-old sensation Dario Saric, who had already scored 12 points and snagged nine rebounds. Ukic made coach Jasmin Repesa look like a genius with the move when he knocked down a deuce at the death to dash any hopes the Hungarians had of qualifying. Bojan Bogdanovic dropped in 17 points for Croatia in the win, Saric continued to impress with 12 points and nine rebounds in 17 minutes of play, and Rok Stipcevic and Damir Markota added 10 each. Hungary was paced by Péter Lóránt’s 24 points and eight rebounds, and the trio of David Vojvoda, Ádám Hanga, and Miklós Szabó contributed 10 points each in the loss.
The Ukraine squad completed their EuroBasket 2013 Qualification Round with a decisive home win over winless Cyprus 69-51, giving the hosts a final 6-2 record. Steven Burtt led Ukraine with 13 points while Korniyenko had 12, Sergii Gladyr 11 and Artur Drozdov 10. Trisokkas led Cyrprus with 15 points while Anthony King added 14 and Andreas Sizopoulos 10.
Last game scenarios:
Austria hits the road Tuesday to take on Croatia in a make or break contest for the Austrians. A win will put them in 3rd place at 4-4, potentially with a number of other teams, so their hope is to win with a decent advantage to improve their F/A (527/511). They would have to hope for positive results from other groups to move on. The last time Austria took on Croatia they were on the low end of an 82-75 affair. A loss by Austria knocks them out of contention for qualifying for the finals.
Georgians started making travel arrangements for next September around the 5:07 mark of the final quarter when George Tsintsadze dropped in a lay-up to put his squad up by seven. Latvia wasn’t about to just let them run off with the contest though and they fought back to within three with 2:24 left, only to have the margin shoot back up to seven thirty seconds later. The next five points registered on the Latvia side of the board though and with 24 clicks left, the squads were two apart at 70-68. Viktor Sanikidze split a pair of free throws to put the score at 71-68 and then Janis Strelnieks brought the deficit down to one for Latvia with two charity tosses of his own with 11 seconds left. With eight to play Zaza Pachulia put an exclamation point on the game with what would be the final two points of the contest as he slammed a deuce to put Georgia up 73-70. The Latvians got two three-pointers off in the last four seconds, but neither found the net and the Georgians celebrated their hard-fought qualification status.
Manuchar Markoishvili had 17 points for Georgia with Pachulia and Jacob Pullen adding 15 each, Tsintsadze 14. Arturs Berzins and Davis Bertans had 15 apiece for Latvia, with Martins Meiers collecting 14 and Strelnieks 11.
Last game scenarios:
Georgia finishes 2nd regardless of Tuesday’s results since they beat Latvia in the tie-break by 6. If Latvia beats Romania on Tuesday, they will most likely qualify as a 3rd place team with a 5-3 record and a great F/A (570/507). If they lose, they will still have a good shot with the 4-4 crowd, with that high F/A.
Belgium used a massive 15-point advantage in the second quarter to help hold off a last quarter charge by the Fins and send Group E into a last-day show down for 3rd place. Poland wins a tie-break with Finland by 3, so they win the group, but Finland wins a tie-break with Belgium by 34, so they can’t finish lower than 2nd even if Finland loses and Belgium wins on Tuesday.
Poland put a smack on Albania to lock down the top slot of Group E, 89-59. Albania lead the contest at the end of the first quarter 19-18, but then Poland ran away with the contest and put some distance on their guests to bump their F/A ratio to 704/568, just in case they need it for seeding in Sept of 2013. Albania dropped to 0-7 in the competition and will wrap up with home game with Belgium in a key game in the Group E hunt for the last secure spot in the Finals and hopefully a 3rd place qualifier. Poland concluded their qualifier with a 6-2 record. Marcin Gortat paced the Polish squad with 18 points and 10 rebounds, Przemyslaw Zamojski added 13 and Michal Ignerski contributed 11. Albania collected 18 from Klaudio Ndoja, 16 points and 11 rebounds from Gerti Shima, and 13 points and eight rebounds from Endrit Hysenagolli.
Finland built a nine-point gap in the first quarter that was more than erased in the second, as the teams headed into the dressing rooms with the host Belgians up 44-38. The third was much of the same and the margin grew seven more to have the teams head into the final frame with Finland trailing 59-46. Finland then turned on the steam and blasted a 22-3 run to put them up 68-62 with 2:25 to play. Unfortunately for Finland, they ran out of that steam and couldn’t manage another point, while Belgium tallied the last nine points of the game, including the game winner with two seconds left, a lay-up by Sam Van Rossom. Wen Mukubu gave Belgium 20 points in the victory, followed by 10 each from Roel Moors and Guy Muya. Finland received 22 points from Petteri Koponen and 11 apiece from Tuukka Kotti and Sasu Salin.
Last game scenarios:
Poland and Finland are seeded 1 and 2 regardless of what happens on Tuesday. If Belgium beats winless Albania they improve their record to 5-3 with an F/A as of today of 536/499 and will have a very good shot at a 3rd place spot. If they lose, they’ll drop to 4-4 and will be in a fight with the other 4-4s, their F/A will most likely be good enough to get them through. Switzerland (currently 3-4) has a nearly impossible shot at making it through with a combination of having to play Finland, who beat them 89-60 the first round, and their low current F/A of 493/586.
Italy wasn’t all that gracious a host to Belarus yesterday, putting a drubbing on their visitors, 83-58. By the end of the first half the Italians had racked up a 16-point margin, 48-32, and cruised through the second half to conclude their EuroBasket 2013 Qualifier at a perfect 8-0. Belarus dropped to 1-6, with a final match-up with winless Portugal on Tuesday. Italy got 16 points and 12 rebounds from Danilo Gallinari, 12 from Pietro Aradori, and 10 from Stefano Mancinelli. Belarus was led by Aliaksandr Kudrautsau’s 12.
Host Portugal was hoping to get the goose-egg off the left column when Turkey stepped on the court yesterday. For three quarters it looked like they just might, going into the final stanza with a 52-47 advantage. They knocked down the first two of fourth as well, to extend to seven, 54-47, but then Turkey tallied the next seven to tie it at 54 with 7:14 to play. The hosts countered with five of their own to go up 59-54, only to have Turkey go off on a 14-4 run and not look back, closing it out with a 10-point victory. The win puts Turkey at 4-3 and drops Portugal to 0-7. Turkey hosts the Czech Republic on Tuesday to determine the 2nd and 3rd place finishers in the group. Portugal travels to Belarus for their last shot at a win. Turkey was lead by Izzet Türkyilmaz’s 21 points and 11 rebounds and Ender Arsian’s 19 points. Portugal got 20 points and eight rebounds from Cláudio Fonseca.
Last game scenarios:
Italy has the top spot locked up, but the Turkey-Czech Republic game has far-reaching implications through-out the competition. If the Czechs win on Tuesday, they move to 6-2 and take the second spot, dropping Turkey to 4-4 with potentially a solid number of 4-4 teams. Turkey’s F/A ratio is fair at 536/510 so they want to avoid a big loss to strengthen their changes in the pool of 3rd place finishers in that scenario. If Turkey wins, things get a bit more complicated for everyone. Turkey is down 18 points in the tie-breaker with CR, who won the first game 82-64 at home, so if they can win by 19 or more, Turkey would move in to second place with a 5-3 record and the Czechs would move to 3rd with a 5-3 record and that should be good enough to qualify. That 5-3 record will most likely eliminate a 4-4 team, which there could be a few of. If Turkey wins by less than 18, they move to third with a 5-3 record and the Czech’s get the second spot. Again, a 5-3 record should move on without needing to compare F/A ratios.
Notes on the last game scenarios: There are a number of cross Group possibilities that were not explored here, but the situation with the 3rd place teams and those four qualification slots boils down to two main thoughts: 1). A 5-3 record will get in; 2). A 4-4 record could with a high F/A ratio.
Pictures courtesy: FIBA.com