The second round of Eurobasket qualifiers are now underway with Estonia already guaranteed a spot in next year’s tournament after winning the first round of qualifying games.
France (champions), Lithuania, Spain, Croatia, Slovenia, Ukraine, Serbia, Finland, Greece and Turkey are also assured of a place at next year’s Eurobasket due to their involvement at the FIBA World Cup.
A 15-2 burst was enough for Iceland to stun Great Britain 83-70 in the opening game in Group A.
Haukur Palsson led Iceland with 24 points as they coped well with a 6-man rotation and without the services of Jon Steffansson.
Dan Clark led GB with 20 points.
Montenegro started their Eurobasket campaign with a hard-fought 100-97 win over Israel in Cyprus.
The game had to be played in Nicosia due to the political conflict in Israel at the moment.
Taylor Rochestie led Montenegro with 17 points, cancelling out Omri Casspi’s 28-point, 10-rebound double-double.
“The key for this game was first of all that Israel didn’t play at home and that helped us to run our game,” Montenegro coach Luka Pavicevic said. “Second was our ability to defend Israel at the most important moments in the second half – to slow down the ball movement and the transition. That helped us to open a gap and at the end it was a little bit too much for Israel.”
Netherlands comfortably beat Bulgaria 62-53 on the road as the Dutch’s superior height got the job done.
Arvin Slagter led Netherlands with 18 points.
Poland edged Germany 68-67 in an emotionally charged game in Torun. Mateusz Ponitka settled the tie with 18 seconds left from the foul line.
Adam Waczynski led the Poles with 19 points.
“I’m very happy that we’ve managed to win in this hard fought game,” said Waczynski afterwards. “We’ve withstood the pressure and made our game plan work. We have been preparing for this game very long. Our defence stopped their main shooters. Every player gave something to this win.”
Austria made hard work of their 84-76 win over minnows Luxembourg. They once led by 29 points in the latter stages of the third period, but still settled for the win.
Thomas Schreiner led the Austrians with 16 points.
FYR of Macedonia needed overtime to beat Belgium 76-73 in a physically intense battle in Skopje.
The Macedonians came from a 13-point half-time deficit to force overtime and finally edge the Lions.
Vojdan Stojanovski and Bojan Trajkovski both had 16 points for FYROM.
Belarus never got out of second gear as they cruised to a 97-72 win over Denmark in Minsk.
Georgia downed Czech Republic 72-63 in Tbilisi, thanks to 19 points from Zaza Pachulia.
In a close match throughout, the hosts pulled away from the Czechs in the final quarter by holding them to just 9 points.
Patrik Auda led the Czechs with 18.
Hungary put on a defensive clinic by clamping down on Portugal and winning 58-38.
David Vojvoda led the Hungarians with 20 points but the game itself lacked any excitement.
Latvia got an already crucial road win, by beating Sweden 62-50.
Kaspers Berzins led Latvia with 14 points and nearly grabbed a double-double but missed out by a rebound.
Romania eased past the Slovak Republic 81-69 in the other Group F encounter. Titus Nicoara led the winners with 20 points.
Switzerland stunned Russia 79-77 in quite easily the upset of the first round of games.
Dusan Mladjan led the Swiss with 24 points as they nearly blew a 20-point lead at one stage but came through thanks to a free throw from Greg Brunner.