Everything is coming to a head as we’re finally getting a picture of Europe’s big basketball tournament. With eight teams still in the running for five spots, four of today’s FIBA EuroBasket 2013 qualifiers are potentially crucial to making up the final bracket in Slovenia: Germany at Sweden, Serbia at Estonia, Turkey at Portugal and the match of the day, Latvia at Georgia. BallinEurope takes a brief look at these games and the overall picture as the qualification tourney nears its end – bullet-style, natch, with links and YouTubes.
• The way BiE sees it, the picture looks something like the following. In/in barring epic collapse: Montenegro, Germany, Italy, Croatia, Ukraine, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Poland, Finland, Czech Republic. All but out/out: Belarus, Netherlands, Romania, Hungary, Austria, Switzerland. Why are we here: Slovakia, Iceland, Albania, Portugal, Cyprus, Luxembourg.
Latvia and Georgia each only need one win to advance to Slovenia; they play one another and finish against Romania and Netherlands, respectively – pencil both in.
This leaves eight teams vying for five spots and we already know that one will be occupied by Serbia or Israel, another by Azerbaijan (no, really) or Sweden. According to FIBA’s own scenarios, it seems that Belgium, Estonia and Bulgaria need way too many things to go their way, implying that … Turkey is an upset away from not advancing into Eurobasket 2013, possibly giving up a seat to Sweden, Israel or Azerbaijan (no, really really).
• Though Israel hosts Slovakia in qualifying game 9 tonight, at least one news source of note claims that the team’s already looking ahead to Tuesday night’s match against Serbia … going against the “we take these games one at a time” cliché, eh?
• After Mirza Teletovic and his Team Bosnia & Herzegovina topped Georgia in a thriller, the Georgia-Latvia match is now a win-and-in. Here’s to thinking that if Georgia puts 103 on the scoreboard again, they won’t lose – and Team Latvia is bringing no one of Teletovic’s dominant ilk right now.
• BiE’s team of the tournament thus far? Well, it’s gotta be Team Montenegro, right? As impressive as Italy has been, Montenegro’s eight-game run points to a more promising Eurobasket 2013 after the disappointment of ’11. Best underdog is Azerbaijan, no contest.
• Official home team of BallinEurope, Team Hungary, it seems has been all but mathematically eliminated. Sigh. Ah well, you gotta love prospective San Antonio Spur Adam Hanga’s line in the loss to Austria (freaking Austria!) 20 points on 8-of-17 shooting; four rebounds; three assists; four steals, one block and one TO. If folks in Hungary cared a wee bit more about basketball, Hanga’s profile would be exceedingly high.
• As for Turkey, two Ws and they’ll be playing in Slovenia next year after all. On the schedule are games at Portugal and versus the surprising Czech Republic, a seemingly doable task. Putting a bit of a dampener of things is Bogdan Tanjevic’s reasoning for his team’s 18-point second-half collapse against Italy: “We were under pressure, but they were not and that’s another advantage for them.” Surely the pressure won’t get to them again…?