MKD chips all-in for Estonia ahead of Kosovo trip
TALLINN (FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 European Pre-Qualifiers) - Estonia locked in their spot in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 European Qualifiers after holding off a sturdy Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia challenge in Tallinn on Wednesday.
However, there will be no time for the Macedonians to hold a grudge against their wrongdoers in Group D, with their own fate now resting in the very same Estonian hands that are responsible for the 74-65 defeat at the Saku Suurhall.
"It was a tough game for both teams. We definitely had more pressure on our shoulders before the game, as we need a win. We played well defensively, but that lasted only 30 minutes," said head coach Jordanco Davitkov, speaking to media after a tough loss in the Estonian capital.
It was the last game of the Pre-Qualifiers for MKD, who finished the summer with a 1-3 record, while Estonia have one more fixture remaining that carries massive implications for everyone in their group but themselves.
"The last game against Kosovo will be really tough. I have played in Kosovo before and nothing is easy there."Estonia point guard Sten Sokk
Having guaranteed the pole position in the standings with a 3-0 record, it will now be Estonia ultimately deciding who gets to tag along to the next round in their last Pre-Qualifiers game on the road in Kosovo.
"We knew that MKD would come and play strong because their backs were against the wall. Although we have some relief now, having secured qualification, we still have to finish strong against Kosovo," said the Estonia head coach Tiit Sokk.
In spite of not seizing the opportunity to be the masters of their own fate, MKD are still the first ones in line to grab the second ticket to the Qualifiers, but would see the tables turn against them if the Kosovar side registered an upset against Estonia in what is undoubtedly going to be a packed arena in Prishtina.
"The last game against Kosovo will be really tough. I have played in Kosovo before and nothing is easy there," said Sten Sokk, who was Estonia's leading scorer with 15 points against MKD, making no promises.
In their first head-to-head meeting, Estonia claimed an easy 76-50 victory at home in Tallinn, but the same task in a hostile Prishtina atmosphere could prove a much more difficult task, as the Macedonians found out the hard way.
Although they were not listed as the favorites to advance before the Pre-Qualifiers, all of the pressure will now be on coach Brad Greenberg and his Kosovo side to get a positive result, with a historic opportunity to get into the Qualifiers at an arm's length.