It was another eventful day in the first round of the European Qualifiers for the FIBA World Cup 2019. Many nations are without their key players due to commitments to professional teams playing in the NBA and the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague. This obstacle did not prevent these National Teams from giving it their all for pride and country.
Two European Titans of basketball locked horns and Spain came up victorious over European champions, Slovenia 92-84. It was a sweet win that had a pinch of payback sprinkled in just to spice things up. Serbia knocked Spain out of Eurobasket 2017 in the semi-finals. While this victory, spearheaded Spain’s Sergi Vidal, was not able to completely erase the heartbreak from that day; the joy and pride it brought to the Spanish squad were beyond words.
The Croatian contingent felt the loss of their missing key players in their game against Italy. Dario Saric, Dragan Bender, and Bojan Bogdanovic were just a few talents that Croatia sorely needed. Darko Planinic did his best to lift the team with a 20-point, 10-rebound performance but it was not enough to slow down Italy, which led from start to finish. They burst out with a 20-9 second period to claim the lead from Croatia and did not look back. Italy cruised to their 80-64 win from there.
Romania downed The Netherlands 75-68, while Lithuania overpowered Poland for a 75-55 blowout win. Eimantas Bendzius led the way for Lithuania with 18 points.
Turkey kept its momentum going and stay undefeated (2-0) as they toppled Ukraine 67-60. It was a strong team effort by the Turkish team as they overcame a 20-point game by Ukraine’s Sergii Gladyr. It was an exciting game with both teams playing hard and contesting the lead in every period.
Hungary got on the board with their first win after defeating Kosovo 84-76. Kosovo is now 0-2 and is in fourth place of Group C.
Only the top three teams from each group will advance from the first stage.