23 November, 2017
21 August, 2019
8 Vojdan Stojanovski (MKD), 14 Kristjan Kangur (EST)
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Preview: Game Day 1 could already have major consequences

MUNICH (FIBA EuroBasket 2017 Pre-Qualifiers) - It is just the first day of the Pre-Qualifiers, but are we already looking at two games which could ultimately decided the outcomes of Groups A and C?

Group A: Slovak Republic v The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (MKD)

Time: Thursday, 18:00 CET
Head-to-head: This will be their first ever clash in FIBA competition
Follow this game because: The 'well begun is half done' saying may never be more true than it is for the Slovak and Macedonian sides already on the first day of the Pre-Qualifiers. Any team who gets an advantage in the first head-to-head clash between the presumed group front-runners will get massive boost, especially if MKD win on the road.
Key matchup: Slovak Republic's giant Michael Fusek has shown glimpses of solid play for Proximus Spirou in the FIBA Europe Cup this season, but the 22-year-old center will have to deal with the much more experienced Richard Hendrix at the opposite end, who may be almost 8 inches (20 cm) shorter but will not let that show on the court.
The 'insider' prediction: This should be a close game that stays in single-digit difference territory and the pendulum could swing either way. Home court advantage will be with the Slovak Republic in Poprad, so this could give them a minor edge.

Group B: Albania v Armenia

Time: Thursday, 17:30 CET
Head-to-head: This will be their first ever clash in FIBA competition
Follow this game because: There's a good chance the naturalized Armenia point guard Ryan Boatright leads the FIBA EuroBasket 2021 Pre-Qualifiers in scoring when all is said and done. Can he go for 30 against Albania on the road in Tirana?
Key matchup: Power forward Gerti Shima was among Albania's top scorers in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 European Pre-Qualifiers and he will likely be matched up against the Andrew Chrabascz, who was among the top three in points, rebounds and assists for Armenia last summer.
The 'insider' prediction: Albania will enter their first fixture of the campaign as the underdogs and their chances are directly correlated with how well they deal with Boatright on the defensive end.

Group C: Cyprus v Portugal

Time: Thursday, 18:00 CET
Head-to-head: These sides have met on two previous occasions, both in 1995, with Portugal winning on both occasions (117-77 and 81-60)
Follow this game because: Describing the situation as a must-win for Cyprus may be a bit of a stretch, but there will be a considerable amount of pressure on the Cypriot side to get a good result at home. Expected to play second fiddle in Group C behind Portugal, now is the chance for Cyprus to strike.
Key matchup: Naturalized big man Tyrell Biggs will be tasked with stopping Portuguese big man Joao Gomes, who averaged a double-double of 19.3 points and 10 rebounds per game in the FIBA EuroBasket 2017 Qualifiers.
The 'insider' prediction: Cyprus will give Portugal a good run for their money in Nicosia, but the visitors should still come out on top and come home with a win.