More teams took to the hardwood to play out their second game in the FIBA World Cup 2019 qualifiers. 12 spots are up for grabs from Europe and competition has been fierce in the first round so far. Teams from Groups E, F, G, and H were scheduled to play and the basketball action did not disappoint the fans.
France and Russia notched wins against their respective opponents. France dropped Bosnia and Herzegovina 84-65. France tops the group with their 2-0 record. This was a tough game for Bosnia as it was their first defeat in the round (1-1).
Russia defeated Belgium 76-69 and got on the board with their first victory. Belgium is on the verge of elimination, having failed to record a win thus far (0-2). Veteran guard Sergey Karasev paced the Russian squad with 14 points, six rebounds and three steals.
The Czech Republic continued on their strong showing in the tournament with a 64-56 win over Finland. Ondrej Balvin dominated on the glass with 16 rebounds for the Czech Republic. Their advantage in the paint paid off in spades and helped them bag the win.
Bulgaria and Iceland played out one of the closest games of this round. Iceland led for the first three quarters but Bulgaria had an amazing rally in the fourth and final frame to pull off the comeback win, 77-74.
This is a polarized group with both Germany and Serbia sharing the lead (2-0). Georgia and Austria have yet to record wins. Serbia cruised to an easy 105-87 win over Georgia. They got a huge lift from big man Miroslav Raduljica, who had a monster game with 28 points, eight rebounds and three steals. Serbia controlled the second half and snowballed their way to the massive win.
Germany recorded one of the most lopsided victories of the round with their 90-49 stomping of Austria. They surged to a 20-8 lead at the end of the first quarter and did not look back. Johannes Thiemann dropped a big 17-point, 10-rebound double-double for Germany.
Greece is the team to beat in this group and they asserted their dominance yet again, this time with a 21-point blowout victory over Israel, 82-61. Greece bounced back after a relatively sluggish start and piled on the points in the second quarter and after the break. Israel could do little to slow down their offense. This was Israel’s first loss (1-1) and they are still expected to advance along with Greece.
Estonia managed to keep Great Britain without a win in the tournament, edging them out with 73-70. Defenses were on amped up as the scoring was limited in the fourth quarter but Estonia did just enough to hold on to their narrow advantage.