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Denmark, Great Britain celebrate early-bird tickets to FIBA EuroBasket 2021 Qualifiers
MUNICH (Germany) - Denmark and Great Britain ensured they will advance from the FIBA EuroBasket 2021 Pre-Qualifiers with a game to spare in the Third Round after picking up decisive wins on Saturday.
Gabriel Lundberg was the hero for the Danes in Group E, pulling up for the game-winning three-pointer in the dying seconds to propel his side to a 69-66 triumph over Belarus having erased a 16-point deficit. The 24-year-old guard finished with 27 points along with 3 assists and 3 steals in an inspired 40-minute effort with Kevin Larsen adding 18 points.
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"It was hard work," declared Lundberg. "We were down by 16 and rebounded and defended ourselves back into the game. And the last shot is just open – and it went in, didn't it?"
Denmark's head coach Erez Bittman added: "We knew from the beginning it would be a very difficult game. Belarus is very experienced, but I told our guys at the end that whoever would show a little bit more heart and determination would win the game. And, I'm so happy to say that they did that."
As one of the four group winners in the Pre-Qualifiers, the Danes will join the trio of Belgium, Czech Republic and Lithuania in Group C of the FIBA EuroBasket 2021 Qualifiers.
Great Britain established an unassailable lead at the top of Group G with a comfortable 101-79 success at home to Kosovo. Nate Reinking's side improved to 3-0 ahead of a trip to Luxembourg and will move onto face France, Germany and Montenegro in the Qualifiers.
Myles Hesson starred with a near triple-double after putting up 19 points, 9 rebounds and 10 assists to lead his team to victory with Gabe Olaseni adding 18 points on 8-of-10 shooting, while three other players hit double figures.
"These guys were mentally ready to come and play, they wanted to get the first punch against Kosovo, I think they did that, we established ourselves and continued that throughout the game," said Reinking.
"The guys play well together, the assist total proves it - how they moved the ball and finding the extra man. It's their team, their group and they came together unbelievably. They are getting better each game, they came out with great confidence."
Meanwhile, Iceland produced a dominant display to put themselves in pole position to advance from their group with an emphatic 96-68 win over Portugal. They avenged a narrow loss on the road 10 days ago with Jon Axel Gudmundsson and Hlynur Baeringsson combined for 43 points in the rout to make use of their support in Reykjavik.
"Home court means a lot in Europe - I didn't realize it would mean this much as it was today," said Iceland’s head coach Craig Pedersen. "Teams usually play much better at home and luckily we did that today. It was an all round great game by everybody on the team."
Iceland got a big win in Group H in front of their fans in Reykjavik
The loss for Portugal sees their hopes end with Group H to be decided on Wednesday when Iceland visit Clint Capela and Switzerland. A win for the hosts would set up a three-way tie to finish, though they would need to win by at least 20 points to advance.
Romania moved a step closer to clinching their place in the Qualifiers after maintaining their perfect record with an 89-63 victory over Cyprus. Bogdan Popa led the way with a 22-point haul, while Emanuel Cate posted 13 points and 15 rebounds for a double-double.
The top spot in Group F will be decided in a head-to-head clash between Romania and Slovakia in Bratislava, with the the Slovaks needing an 18-point win to overtake the undefeated group leaders from Romania.
The Pre-Qualifiers conclude with the last four games taking place on Wednesday with two group winners and tickets to the Qualifiers still to be determined.