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15/09/2016
News

Gameday 5 Round-Up: Belgium, Slovenia, Montenegro and Hungary secure berths at FIBA EuroBasket 2017

3 Goran Dragic (SLO), Slovenia v Bulgaria (Photo: KZS/Ales Fevzer)
3 Goran Dragic (SLO) - Slovenia v Bulgaria, 2017 EuroBasket Qualifiers, Ljubljana - Stozice Arena(Slovenia), Qualifiers, 14 September 2016

MUNICH (FIBA EuroBasket 2017 Qualifiers) - Four tickets to FIBA EuroBasket 2017 found their rightful holders on Wednesday night, as Belgium and Hungary clinched first spot in Group A and Group G, respectively, while Slovenia and Montenegro secured a finish among the four-best second placed teams, at the very least.

These four teams follow Russia, who had secured a berth last Saturday, so there are six remaining tickets at play on the sixth and final game day of the Qualifiers this Saturday.

Belgium achieved qualification in impressive fashion, as they rolled over Switzerland 87-49 in Antwerp behind a 20-point showing by Jonathan Tabu and a 16-point, 6-rebound contribution by youngster Retin Obasohan.

"I am so proud of the guys and their intensity," said Belgium head coach Eddy Casteels. "We are going to our fourth-consecutive EuroBasket. I remember the first time and it was something special, but this is also a very special [achievement], in a different way."

In the other game in Group A, Iceland pulled away from Cyprus thanks to a superb third quarter burst following a tight first half to pick up an 84-62 win, behind 18 points and nine rebounds by Hlynur Baeringsson. Iceland maintain options to qualify as one of the best second-placed teams while both Cyprus and Switzerland are out of the race.

In Group E, Slovenia got off to a rusty start against Bulgaria but before the crowd in Ljubljana could start getting worried, Goran Dragic took over and propelled the hosts to a blistering 35-6 stretch in the third quarter. The Miami Heat point guard finished with a double-double of 17 points and 10 assists as Slovenia picked up an 85-63 victory.

"Congratulations to my players for this win and the whole summer," said Slovenia head coach Igor Kokoskov. "There is one more game ahead of us, which is also very important to us. The fact that we already made it to the EuroBasket is a great success, but Slovenia is supposed to be there. I think that there should always be a place at the EuroBasket for Slovenia. The game against Ukraine will be very important for us, because we want to finish the Qualifiers in first place."

In the other game in the group, which took place in Vilnius, Lithuania, Ukraine breezed past Kosovo 100-61 as Oleksandr Mishula led five players in double digits with his 21 points and Slava Kravtsov registered a double-double of 16 points and 14 boards.

In Group F, Montenegro built a double-digit lead already in the first quarter in front of their fans in Bar and cruised past Albania 94-56, after forcing their guests to commit 23 turnovers. Vladimir Mihailovic had 13 points and Nikola Vucevic added 12 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists for the winners.

Meanwhile in Tbilisi, Tornike Shengelia poured in 24 of his 31 points in the first half to propel Georgia to a 96-68 win over Slovak Republic, as the hosts out-rebounded the visitors 42 to 22. Georgia’s win sets up their Saturday clash with Montenegro as the decider for first place in the Group.

Hungary saw their unblemished record getting seriously threatened in Luxembourg, but they ultimately survived a fantastic showing by the plucky hosts to snatch a 68-65 win and secure top spot in Group G. Adam Hanga had 18 points and 6 rebounds to pave the way for the winners.

"What an intense game, we are exhausted," said Hungary’s Akos Keller. "We were tired and we had a horrible shooting night. Luxembourg played very good defence and they scored a lot of baskets in transition, but luckily not at the end. In any case we are so happy that we won this game against Luxembourg and we have qualified to EuroBasket."

Great Britain meanwhile secured second spot in the group and maintain options to qualify, courtesy of an ultimately comfortable 89-62 victory at MKD, which knocked the FIBA EuroBasket 2011 semi-finalists out of contention for qualification. Dan Clark scored 21 points on 8-for-14 from the floor and added 5 rebounds to pave the way for the British.

One of the most gripping games of the night took place in Leiden, where Netherlands fought their way back from a 9-point deficit against Denmark and forced overtime. The Dutch then pulled ahead in the extra period and emerged 98-88 winners, as Worthy de Jong finished with 20 points and Roland Schaftenaar added 14 points and 11 rebounds.

The Dutch improved to 4-1 in the Group B standings and will play Germany for first place on Saturday. The Germans showed a much improved performance to snap a two-game losing streak by defeating Austria 78-58, behind a double-double of 19 points and 10 boards from Johannes Voigtmann.

In the lone Group C game, in Stockholm, Jusuf Nurkic came up with 21 points and Miralem Halilovic conjured a double-double of 18 points and 10 boards to steer Bosnia and Herzegovina to a hard-earned 78-76 success over hosts Sweden. Bosnia and Herzegovina’s joy was mired by a serious injury to youngster Nedim Buza, but the Balkan side has finished in second place in the group, behind the already qualified Russia, and will have to await results elsewhere on Saturday.

Belarus are responsible for the big upset of the night, as they stifled Poland on the rod and earned a famous 76-57 win that keeps them alive in the qualification race. Maalik Wayns dropped 21 points while Artiom Parakhouski came up with a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds to instigate the Belorussian success.

In the other game in Group D, Estonia overcame a slow start to pull away from Portugal after the break and clinch an 82-63 win, on the back of a 17-point display from Rain Veideman and 14 points from Kristjan Kitsing.

FIBA