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From Avramovic to Zoltan - an A to Z of February's World Cup European Qualifiers
VALENCIA (Jeff Taylor's Eurovision) - A is for Avramovic, B is for Bohacik, C is for Croatia, and so on. Let's pore over my A to Z of February's World Cup Qualifiers.
A is for Avramovic, Aleksa Avramovic, an unheralded, 23-year-old shooting guard who gave a Grade A effort at Austria in his first run with Serbia. He had 13 points, including a game-winning 3 with 22 seconds to go.
B is for Bohacik. Jaromir Bohacik, an athletic, 1.96m (6ft 6in) small forward for the Czech Republic, is 11 of 18 from deep in the Qualifiers. He had 24 points in a 78-76 come-from-behind triumph at Bulgaria on February 23. Even in a 76-75 defeat at Iceland a couple of days later, Bohacik had 19 points.
A smiling Bohacik is beginning to realize he's very good
C is for Croatia, a team that has a pulse at 1-3 after Monday's 82-78 win over the Netherlands!
D is for Della Valle, the 24-year-old dagger-delivering Italian whose tiro ignoranti (crazy shot) at the end of the Azzuri's 101-50 romp at Romania made him 16 of 33 (48.5 percent) from long range in the Qualifiers. Della Valle is sizzling, averaging 23ppg.
E is for Estonia! The Baltic minnows are 2-2 and looking good bets to play in the Second Round.
F is for full house! That's what Sweden had in their 59-58 win over Turkey in Stockholm!
The Hovet Arena was rocking for Sweden v Turkey
G is for Germany. You have to love the emotion of coach Henrik Rodl, the inspired play of guards Joshiko Saibou, Bastian Doreth and Ismet Akpinar and also that huge home win over Serbia on February 23!
H is for Hellas and their helluva start in the Qualifiers. Never mind their second narrow victory over Great Britain, on Sunday, February 25, all that counts is the W and the Greeks have four so far.
I is for Iceland, a team that had wins over the Susijengi and the Czechs in Reykjavik. From 0-2 to 2-2, Craig Pedersen's squad is trying to take a page out of its football team's book by making it to the World Cup.
Iceland's Martin Hermannsson is averaging 25.5ppg
J is for Javier. Javier Beiran had to wait until he was 30 but he finally played for Spain and celebrated by making 4 of 4 from deep in an 82-80 win at Belarus.
K is for Kravtsov. Big "Slava" Kravtsov had 22 points, 13 rebounds for Ukraine in their 82-68 win at Latvia on February 23.
L is for Lithuania. The behemoths of the Baltics are 4-0 and headed straight for the World Cup. Keep your eyes on emerging center Laurynas Birutis, 20, and Eimantas Bendzius, who's been excellent.
M is for Musa. Bosnia and Herzegovina sensation Dzanan Musa, just 18, continued to show he's one of the best players on the court in any game. Just sit back and enjoy.
N is for Netherlands. Toon van Helfteren's Oranje lost at Italy and Croatia in February, yet they made enough plays late against the latter to shave the margin of defeat to just 4 points. Because of that, they'd win a potential head-to-head tiebreaker and that could end up getting them into the Second Round.
O is for Oh my goodness, did Slovenia's Klemen Prepelic really miss that free throw? Prepelic was off target with his second shot from the line just 4.23 seconds from the end in Minsk on Monday and Belarus won, 93-92. Prepelic is now 21 of 25 (85 percent) at the line and his team is 2-2 in Group A.
P is for Poland, a team that limited the damage in a 64-57 defeat at Hungary. Mike Taylor's team owns the potential tie-breaker with the Hungarians for second place.
Q is for Quino. Point guard Quino Colom has been very good and right now is a good bet for a spot on Spain's World Cup team. If Sergio Scariolo wants to see what he's made of, play him against a desperate Slovenia team in Ljubljana on June 28.
R is for Russia, who suffered a 1-point overtime loss at France but bounced back in Perm with a home triumph over Bosnia and Herzegovina.
S is for Salash. Yes, Maksim Salash, 21, had his coming out party for Belarus in their narrow win over Slovenia with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
T is for Turkey, who went 0-2 in February and are now 2-2. Come home, Cedi. Your country needs you.
U is for unheralded, which is what Finland's Vilpas Vikings power forward Juho Nenonen is. The 30-year-old had a team-high 8 rebounds in a Susijengi win over Bulgaria that effectively kept them in the hunt for World Cup Qualification.
V is for Vezenkov. Bulgaria, who suffered a double-dose of heartbreak with narrow losses to the Czechs and Finns, should focus on the positives. One of them was Aleksandar Vezenkov, who had 28 points and 10 rebounds in defeat to the Susijengi.
W is for waste. Jaka Blazic was downright amazing at Belarus on Monday with 27 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists, but you know what Slovenia did? They wasted it!
X is for X-factor, which is what veteran Raviv Limonad was for Israel in their 82-75 win over Great Britain with his 15 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals.
Y is for Yikes, the collective feeling of Belgian Lions nation. They led at Bosnia and Herzegovina but fell, and also lost after being in front at France. Belgium are 0-4.
Z is for Zoltan. Yes, Zoltan Perl was a real gem in Hungary's win over Poland with 16 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 1 block.
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