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Belgium storm past Portugal, advance to FIBA EuroBasket 2021 Qualifiers
ALBUFEIRA (FIBA EuroBasket 2021 Pre-Qualifiers) - A dominant fourth quarter was enough to take Belgium through to the next round. With a 70-60 win in Portugal, they secured first place in Group C.
Turning Point: Dario Gjergja's teams have always been known for their defense, and Belgium fit the script with their fourth-quarter display in Portugal. They held the hosts to just four points in the last ten minutes, turning what was a 56-50 deficit into a double-digit win.
Stats Don't Lie: Just 2-of-12 shooting from the field in the last quarter ruined the day for the hosts. Belgium were 6-of-12 in the same period, made a couple of three-pointers when it mattered most and secured a big lead ahead of the closing minutes.
Game Hero: Youngster Ismael Bako had 15 points and 7 rebounds in 18 minutes of work, but it was one of the experienced guys who led the team on Sunday. Sam Van Rossom had 17 points, 4-of-6 from beyond the arc, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals.
Game Notes: Belgium now know that they will play the FIBA EuroBasket 2021 Qualifiers this November, even if they lose their last game in February, against Iceland. Portugal and Iceland will have to work during the summer, getting another chance to advance through the FIBA EuroBasket 2021 Pre-Qualifiers Third Round in August.
They Said: "We let them get too many offensive rebounds, too many second chances and that allowed them to recover. We weren't able to be consistent for forty minutes and today Belgium were the better team." - Mario Gomez, Portugal head coach
"It was a very tough game. We played well for three quarters, but Belgium defended really well in the fourth quarter and that was the key. The qualification is not impossible, so we'll try to win the last game against Iceland." - Claudio Fonseca, Portugal
"We played two games in a row and fatigue took over our guys. I told the guys to be patient and, bit by bit, we caught momentum. Our fourth quarter defense was perfect, decent execution on offense and my guys deserve everything."- Dario Gjergja, Belgium head coach