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Fans in packed stadiums spur teams on to victories in Qualifiers
MIES (FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 European Qualifiers) - Boisterous and large crowds helped propel national teams to famous victories on the opening day of the World Cup Qualifiers in Europe.
Bursa's Tofas Nilüfer Spor Salonu had an electric atmosphere that helped Turkey fight back from an early eight-point deficit to Latvia and win 85-73. All the tickets for the 6,500 seats made available for this contest were snapped up and many of the fans not only cheered the Twelve Giant Men to victory but did so with a flag-waving, patriotic fervor.
In Germany, more than 5,000 fans rooted wildly and constantly for their Henrik Rodl-coached team and helped it overcome a pesky and determined Georgia, 79-70. The visitors led by a point entering the last quarter only for the Germans, roared on by the partisan crowd, to storm to a nine-point triumph.
Turin's Pala Ruffini was rocking and rolling for Italy's first World Cup Qualifier against Romania, a game Romeo Sacchetti's team won, 75-70. The game was sold out with the 4,500 seats filled.
A couple of national teams that survived difficult Pre-Qualifiers campaigns, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Netherlands, got constant charges from their home support while taking famous victories.
In Sarajevo's Dvorana "Mirza Delibasic" - Skenderija, fans came out in big numbers to watch Bosnia and Herzegovina's 18-year-old sensation Dzanan Musa and he delivered big style with 18 points and 7 rebounds in an 81-76 win over Russia. The fans had to survive a nervous finish with Vitaly Fridzon drilling his fourth and fifth 3-pointers in the last minute and half to help Russia pull to within two points.
The Dutch hosted Croatia at Rotterdam’s Topsportcentrum and before a 3,100 sellout audience, their biggest crowd for a national team game in recent history, and beat them for the first time, 68-61.
In the Leicester Arena in the Midlands of England, a rowdy crowd with a large percentage of Greeks watched their team blow a lead late in regulation before snatching victory from the jaws of defeat with Giannis Athinaiou's 3-pointer at the end.
While fans poured into venues in Europe, they have watched games in big numbers in other regions of the world.
Mexico defeated Cuba before a sellout crowd in the 5,290-seat Domo de la Feria in Leon.
In the Far East, 13,000 attended as China won in Nanjing over Hong Kong on Thursday while on Friday, there was a sellout of more than 5,000 in the Heping Gymnasium to watch Chinese Taipei fall to FIBA Asia Cup champions Australia.
On Saturday, 10,500 fans made their way through the turnstiles in the Angolan capital of Luanda to watch their national team take on Egypt in a battle of African heavyweights. The home side came from behind to beat the Pharaohs, 68-64.