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Gameday 5 Preview: Wednesday 14 September

4 Nikola Vucevic (MNE), Slovak Republic v Montenegro (Photo: Martin Havran)
Nikola Vucevic and his still undefeated Montenegro could find themselves celebrating a berth at FIBA EuroBasket 2017 on Wednesday night, in the event a number of results go their way

MUNICH (FIBA EuroBasket 2017 Qualifiers) – Wednesday is judgement day for most of the teams involved in the qualification race for FIBA EuroBasket 2017, with the notable exception of Russia who are not in action and can afford to watch the games on TV and pat themselves on the back for claiming the first of the 11 tickets on offer, last Saturday.

There are a total of six teams who can follow Russia on Wednesday night, in the case of results going their way. It is worth a reminder that the winner of each group, as well as the four best second-placed teams qualify. In order to determine the best second-placed teams, the results of the games against the fourth-placed team in each of the groups of four teams (every group except Group C) will be removed from the ranking process.

Who can qualify on Wednesday?

Belgium, Poland and Hungary are in complete control of their destiny and will secure first place in their respective groups if they emerge victorious on Wednesday.

The fate of Netherlands is not entirely in their hands but they are still in a good position as they will clinch top spot in Group B if they defeat Denmark and at the same time Austria prevail over Germany in the other game in the group.

In Group E, Slovenia will secure top spot if they beat Bulgaria and Ukraine lose to Kosovo. In Group F, Montenegro will clinch first place if they win against Albania and Georgia lose to Slovak Republic.

There is however another option for Slovenia and Montenegro to achieve qualification on Wednesday. It requires them to win their respective games and a minimum two of the following three scenarios to materialise: Netherlands beat Denmark and Austria beat Germany in Group B; Estonia beat Portugal in Group D; Hungary beat Luxembourg in Group G.

Who is not going to be playing on Wednesday?

Maciej Lampe sat out Poland’s Saturday game in Portugal after picking up a slight ankle injury during warm-up, but the big man has since returned to training and the Polish are confident he will be back in the line-up on Wednesday.

The same cannot be said about Mirza Teletovic, whom Bosnia and Herzegovina head coach Damir Mulaomerovic left out of the squad that travelled to Sweden for disciplinary reasons.

Meanwhile Alexander Vezenkov and Stanimir Marinov will not play in Bulgaria’s last two games in Group E. To make up for Vezenkov’s absence in the frontcourt, coach Lyubomir Minchev has decided to replace guard Demarqis Bost with power forward Jason Washburn, as only one naturalised player is allowed to play.

Below we take a closer look at two of the most decisive clashes on the Wednesday schedule:

MKD (2-2) vs. Great Britain (2-2) – Group G, 19:00 CEST

Only one between the semi-finalists of FIBA EuroBasket 2011 or the hosts of the London 2012 Olympics will live to fight another day in the qualification race. In the reverse fixture, Great Britain out-rebounded MKD 37 to 25 and drilled 13 of their 25 attempts from behind the arc to earn a 96-79 win.

MKD however are well within their rights to believe the British side will not display such an impressive long-range shooting prowess again, since Great Britain have gone a cumulative 24-for-66 (36%) from downtown in their other three games.

Guard Damjan Stojanovski will be unable to help the hosts on Wednesday because of an injury he sustained in that first game in London.

Germany (2-2) vs. Austria (2-2) – Group B, 19:30 CEST

All eyes will be on Germany following their loss to Denmark in a triple-overtime thriller on Saturday as there are far more tangible things at stake now than mere pride in a derby between neighbours.

"We can still win the group and we will go into the last two games with toughness, physicality and a great will to win," said Germany head coach Chris Fleming. “We've only lost two of the last eight quarters we played, but the losing stretches costed us the entire game, so we need to either avoid them or keep them as short as possible. There is still a very good atmosphere within the team."

The reverse fixture in Austria might have turned out to be a low scoring affair but it was still one of the most gripping games in the Qualifiers, as Germany stormed back from a 16-point deficit and out-scored their hosts 19-6 in the final frame to eke out a 61-59 win. 

"It is not over yet," said Austria head coach Kestutis Kemzura. "To beat Germany we will need to put in our best performance. The opponent is under more pressure than we are and the game will be a battle, for which we must be ready. Then everything is possible."

Wednesday’s remaining games:
Group A: Belgium vs. Switzerland at 20:00 CEST; Iceland vs. Cyprus at 22:15 CEST
Group B: Netherlands vs. Denmark at 20:00 CEST
Group C: Sweden vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina at 20:00 CEST
Group D: Estonia vs. Portugal at 18:10 CEST; Poland vs. Belarus at 20:00 CEST
Group E: Ukraine vs. Kosovo at 18:00 CEST; Slovenia vs. Bulgaria at 20:00 CEST
Group F: Georgia vs. Slovak Republic at 17:00 CEST; Montenegro vs Albania at 21:00 CEST
Group G: Luxembourg vs. Hungary at 19:30 CEST