We have reached the halfway point of the Eurobasket qualifiers and already, there is a picture starting to emerge regarding who looks poised to qualify, who will battle it for the four best second placed teams and who are all but out of contention.
Belgium improved to 3-0 in Group A after they breezed past Iceland 80-65 in Antwerp, and moved to the top of the pool.
The Lions broke the deadlock in the third period, taking an 11-point lead heading into the fourth leaving Iceland frozen.
Maxime De Zeeuw had 22 points to lead Belgium.
Cyprus caused a mini shock by beating a more established Switzerland outfit 80-76 in the other Group A clash in Fribourg.
It marked Cyprus’ first win in the group and leaves Switzerland stuck without a win and little chance of making Eurobasket 2017.
Charlon Kloof and Nicolas De Jong were the instigators in Netherlands’ shock 75-71 win over Germany in Oberhausen.
Both sides now own 2-1 records as Kloof paced the Dutch with 22 points and De Jong amassed 20 in the deserved win in which the visitors led for the majority and held on despite German pressure.
Rasid Mahalbasic was Austria’s main man as he went for 11 points and 11 rebounds in a routine 86-66 win against Denmark.
Davor Lamesic led Austria in scoring with 14 points but it was Mahalbasic’s all-round superiority in the paint that proved the difference.
Russia improved to 2-0 after overcoming Sweden 85-73 on the road in Uppsala.
The Swedes unfortunately never recovered from a torrid start in the first period, where they trailed 21-8. Despite a comeback late on, Russia had too many weapons at their disposal as they look a good bet to advance to Eurobasket from Group C. Sweden though fall to 0-2.
Andrei Vorontsevich went 8/9 from the field on his way to 20 points.
A 16-point, 10-rebound double-double from Artsiom Parakhouski helped Belarus to its first win in qualifying as they they beat Portugal 72-62.
The Belorussians go 1-2, while Portugal are all but out of the running with three losses in as many games.
Poland though are still unbeaten as they dominated Estonia 78-64. Maciej Lampe claimed a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds.
Slovenia, currently the number one team, according to FIBA’s overall index rating in these qualifiers improved to 3-0 with a deserved 84-77 win over Ukraine in Celje.
Zoran Dragic exploded for 28 points and eight rebounds which puts them clear at the top of the group as Ukraine suffer their first loss.
In a mini “battle of Barcelona” Sasha Vezenkov beat his team-mate Justin Doellman as Bulgaria topped Kosovo 105-84.
Vezenkov had 18 points for the Bulgarians. Doellman had 16 for Kosovo.
Nikola Vucevic registered a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds to help Montenegro to a 76-74 win over Georgia in front of 9,000 fans in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi.
The Montenegrins remain unbeaten and with their toughest test overcome, they should be favourites to advance to next year’s Eurobasket.
Slovak Republic got its first win of the qualifiers by downing Albania 69-60. The loss drops Albanians to 0-3 and with little hope of qualification.
Hungary secured an impressive 76-66 win over FYR of Macedonia in Kavadarci to improve to 3-0 and go clear at the top of the group.
David Vojvoda led Hungary with 27 points.
Great Britain needed a second half turnaround to overcome a pesky Luxembourg outfit 95-72 in London.
Taking a slender 43-41 lead at the half, GB woke up and went up the gears in the third quarter before pulling clear of Luxembourg for good in the fourth to secure their second win of the week to improve to 2-1. Kyle Johnson led the Brits with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Alex Laurent had an outstanding personal showing for Luxembourg with 30 points.