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17 February, 2020
23 February, 2021
26/02/2021
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Final term: What grade did your country earn in February?

MUNICH (Germany) - The FIBA EuroBasket 2022 Qualifiers are officially over. As we await the upcoming draw for the Final Round, we can take our time to reflect on the last window, which saw all 32 teams in action.

As usual, we will be handing out the grades for all the teams that participated. Even though the eight teams that failed to reach the FIBA EuroBasket 2022 Final Round should've gotten F's since they failed the test, our class is not as strict as that. We decided to include all the participants in this, the final grades piece of the campaign.

Group A

Israel ISR
Grade: A-

It's not enough anymore that Tamir Blatt is flirting with double-doubles against teams like Spain or Poland. Israel have lifted their bar so high that the rest of the continent is now used to seeing them promote new youngsters each time they suit up. Noam Shimon Dovrat is the latest one to explode, he's an 18-year-old who played 18 minutes for 7 points against Spain. Israel were the team closest to finishing 6-0 here, hence the - in the A-, but they felt like A++ since day one, honestly.

 

Spain ESP
Grade: A-

You know what's the best thing about the Spanish system? No matter who comes in, no matter how it happens, people under coach Sergio Scariolo know their role at all times and excel within that role. Even when you have Fran Guerra, and not Marc Gasol at center, you know that all of these players value more what's on the front side of the jersey, than what's on the back. It's really hard to imagine Spain not being a medal contender at the summit - they got an A- here just because they didn't finish top of the group.

Poland POL
Grade: B

Simple way of explaining the 1-1 window and a B here: They qualified, but only finished third in the group. Jeremy Sochan scored 18 points against Romania, always a sight to see when a 17-year-old scores more than his age says.

Romania ROU
Grade: C-

The previous window saw Romania lose to Poland and Spain by a combined margin of 83, so their defeats by single digits this time around showed signs of improvement. Still, they are defeats. Romania failed to advance to the Final Round, but hopefully they found something to work with in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 European Pre-Qualifiers Second Round.

Group B

Italy ITA
Grade: B

Italy entered the final window unbeaten, but lost two of their last three games, throwing away the possibility of finishing at 6-0 and getting an A+ here. At 5-1, they would've still been A or A- material, but at 4-2 they dropped to B, because it felt like that 6-0 was theirs for the taking. Matteo Spagnolo is the new name you need to pay attention to, his growth by the minute is impressive.

 

Russia RUS
Grade: A

They did what they had to do. Two games, two wins, no stress at all, keeping the crowd in Perm happy and on their feet all the time. Russia's depth is getting bigger and bigger, which means they could recreate the magic of FIBA EuroBasket 2017, when they were among the four best teams of the event.

Estonia EST
Grade: B-

The only reason why this is not an A is the fact that Estonia complicated their own lives in that game against North Macedonia, where all they had to do was avoid a 9-point defeat. They were up for most of the game, and then relaxed too soon, which put the game in prospect of overtime. But, Estonia are the team to follow in the coming years, for sure. We've had that theme dominate since Gameday 1 here, as guys like Henri Drell are now game-winners for Estonia.

 

North Macedonia MKD
Grade: B

It was a courageous attempt by North Macedonia, and seeing them win a pair of games in Russia brought back memories of 2011, when it was so easy to fall in love with red and yellow. Nenad Dimitrijevikj and Jacob Wiley are now the one-two punch for MKD, who knows what could've happened if they didn't have to chase that 9-point gap from Gameday 1...

Group C

Belgium BEL
Grade: B+

The growth of Belgian basketball is evident with each passing year. They dominated the group with Lithuania and Czech Republic in there, they destroyed Denmark in both of their games, and this would've been an A or higher if only they outgunned Czech Republic on the very last gameday. Good job, once again. Making consecutive Final Round appearances will lead to being a regular contender for the Knockout Phase, which could lead to a trip to the podium here or there. One step at a time. Keep it going, Belgium.

Lithuania LTU
Grade: B

This could've been the F-est F of all F's ever handed out, but Mantas Kalnietis came up big. Again. Lithuania were the last team to reach the FIBA EuroBasket 2022, the stress that came with battling Denmark until the last second of the Qualifiers will build character for these guys. The memory of almost being out in 2021 will live on as a huge warning sign that everybody plays basketball these days. Not just the triple FIBA EuroBasket winners.

Czech Republic CZE
Grade: C+

Let's just assume that Czech Republic were too relaxed because of the fact they were qualified as hosts. Because 2-4 record is not going to scare anybody these days.

Denmark DEN
Grade: B

Oh Denmark, Denmark... The sweetest Cinderella story that never happened. The upset that fell just short. The Meister der Herzen vibe of Schalke 04 in 2001. It was impossible not to fall in love with this team, as Denmark kept on fighting even though they were without their leader Gabriel Lundberg, and almost stole another one from Lithuania in Lithuania... They said it themselves. This run will make others put some respect on the name Denmark before writing them off.

 

Group D

Croatia CRO
Grade: C

Let's not talk about the last window anymore, okay? Coach Veljko Mrsic tried testing out some new names, but two losses dropped Croatia from a 4-0 record to 4-2 in the end. Keep in mind that Croatia are hosting the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament this summer, they would've been far more ecstatic if they reached it at 6-0.

Netherlands NED
Grade: B

Nobody can say a bad word about the Netherlands, since they defeated Croatia and finished above Turkey in the standings. Two missions accomplished in the final window. Still, can't give them an A after their 15-point defeat to Sweden.

Turkey TUR
Grade: A+

Turkey started 0-3. Turkey finished 3-0. Turkey dominated their last two games. Turkey have an 18-year-old who feels like one of those born leaders. Turkey have Shane Larkin. Turkey are back to being the feel good team of the Qualifiers. Here, take your A+ and put it on the wall - but do understand that we expect even better stuff at the main event.

 

Sweden SWE
Grade: B-

Good to see Jonas Jerebko back with the national team. Shame it won't happen at the summit in Czech Republic, Georgia, Germany or Italy in 2022. Good to see Sweden competing against perennial juggernauts like Croatia and Turkey. Shame their points difference kept them out of the hunt before the final gameday. Good to see them back with a solid team, best of luck to them in the World Cup Pre-Qualifiers!

Group E

Serbia SRB
Grade: A+

The entire world should be afraid of Filip Petrusev. That's it. Because a 20-year-old center picking up 49 points and 14 rebounds in his first two games for the national team is something that doesn't happen very often. Be afraid. Serbia keep  finding new superstars...

 

Georgia GEO
Grade: C

Not the best of all windows for Georgia, but they were a 4-0 team before February even though they had a guaranteed ticket to the Final Round, so that gets them all the respect in the world. Still, -26 and -8 against Serbia and Finland, respectively, can't get you anything higher than C in this piece. Sorry.

Finland FIN
Grade: A

Remember when people thought Finland were in danger because they only had one win before this window? Yeah, neither do we. That's how good of a window this was.

Switzerland SUI
Grade: C

You'll always have Espoo, Switzerland. You can always tell stories of how you defeated Serbia. But two defeats in February did not see you through to the FIBA EuroBasket 2022 Final Round, so you get a C here.

Group F

Ukraine UKR
Grade: A

Group winners! Ukraine did what they had to do, keeping Slovenia and Hungary in the 60s in terms of points allowed, so there was no other way for this to finish than with an A for Ukraine. That massive win over Hungary gives them bragging rights, because in a three-way tie with Slovenia and Hungary, Ukraine claimed the first spot in the group.

Slovenia SLO
Grade: B

There's just a good feeling about this Slovenian squad. All you need are Jaka Blazic, Luka Rupnik and Edo Muric, and something good will happen, even though Jordan Morgan wasn't with the team this time around. A 1-1 window saw them drop to the runner-up spot in the group, which is why they can't get a grade higher than B, either.

Hungary HUN
Grade: B

Take away that last exhausting defeat to Ukraine, and you've got an A waiting to happen in a busy window for Hungary. They played four games, did what they had to do in dramatic fashion against Austria and qualified for the Final Round, so it was easy to predict something lopsided would happen in their last game, no matter the name of the opponent.

Austria AUT
Grade: C-

A part of us hoped Austria could complicate things with a win or two, but it never happened. They are one of only two winless teams of the Qualifiers - the other one being Romania - so there was really no way of upgrading this grade to anything other than C-. Even though they put up one hell of a fight against Hungary.

Group G

France FRA
Grade: B

Isaia Cordinier came up big in the clutch against Montenegro, and it turned out to be the and-one to send France to the main event here. Because, the way they played against Great Britain, they could've been in a lot of trouble to punch their ticket to FIBA EuroBasket 2022. Then again, if they didn't defeat Montenegro on Gameday 5, maybe they would've been fully charged to send Great Britain packing on Gameday 6. Hence, a B. Not great. Not bad either.

Great Britain GBR
Grade: A+

Hey now! France DID help Great Britain by beating Montenegro, but Team GB did a lot to qualify themselves, going 2-0 against Germany and France, picking up a 21-point win over France, knocking down the game-winner at the buzzer against Germany which broke our Jeffrey Taylor's voice in the commentators' box again... Highly entertaining basketball from Great Britain in February, let's make it last and challenge for the Knockout Phase in 2022, okay? Okay.

 

Montenegro MNE
Grade: B

Unlucky. That's it.

Germany GER
Grade: D

Let's just assume that Germany were too relaxed because of the fact they were qualified as hosts. Because 1-5 record is not going to scare anybody these days.

Group H

Bosnia and Herzegovina BIH
Grade: A+

You're already qualified. You could've gone 0-2 and said "meh, who cares." Instead, Bosnia and Herzegovina and coach Vedran Bosnic toyed around with other opponents like there is no tomorrow. It's good to see BIH dominate the Qualifiers like this, it's good to see them promote new leaders of the team like Emir Sulejmanovic aka Sulejmonster and Kenan Kamenjas aka Stone Cold Kameni, it's good to be the top graded team of the window. This could've been A++, really.

Greece GRE
Grade: B

Read the Bosnia and Herzegovina intro again. Then take away one win, and you've got Greece, playing for pride, winning a game in Latvia against Latvia just for fun. Safe and sound in the second spot, despite some last minute changes to their roster. Also, even though this is just a B here, Greece are probably the team to avoid in the FIBA EuroBasket 2022 draw, because nobody wants to see Antetokounmpo brothers at the other end of the floor, right? Right.

Bulgaria BUL
Grade: A

Even if they lost their game to Bosnia and Herzegovina by 1000 points, they still would've had an A here. Because a win over Latvia to send Latvia packing doesn't happen every day, and it sure doesn't happen in Riga. But Bulgaria came out of nowhere to advance to the Final Round for the first time in 10 years! Now it's time to figure out how to improve their FIBA EuroBasket main event record, because they have gone 2-17 from 1991 to 2011...

 

Latvia LAT
Grade: F

The biggest name that will not be at the final summit. Latvia were also the unluckiest of all participants in the FIBA EuroBasket 2022 Qualifiers, because they lost all five of their games by single digits, one of them going to double overtime, three of them being by a one-possession margin. It just wasn't to be. Latvia are set to miss their second straight major event, after losing out in the decider against Montenegro in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 European Qualifiers. Shame.

FIBA