The Eurobasket 2009 qualifiers have started really poorly for coach Recalcati’s Team Italy. After four losses in the first five games, the situation was pretty bad but without going for incredible results, Italy is back in the race for Poland.
With the win in Finland this weekend, Italy will determine its own fate as to whether the team finishes second in their group. The decisive game will be played this Wednesday at home against Bulgaria, in which Italy must win by at least 2 points to take any potential tiebreaker with Bulgaria in the final standings. This scenario is quite possible, as Bulgaria’s final game in the group phase is against Serbia; Bulgaria could fall back into third place with two consecutive defeats.
The injury of Filip Videnov further hurts the team, as the Bulgarian roster is particularly shorthanded at guard, with only Videnov and Jaaber playing consequential minutes. So it will be the game of the year for Italy this Wednesday in Torino, as a defeat would mean that they must enter the additional qualifying round next summer; on the other hand, this would not necessary be a disadvantage, with the team coming out of this round to be particularly fired up.
In Group B, the top two finishers have already been determine. Presently, Latvia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia have two games each against other pool opponents to win the top spot in direct qualifying. Should the teams have the same number of victories, the tiebreaker goes to FYROM over Latvia by 1 point.
In Group C, France has a super important game on Wednesday against Ukraine; the team must win in order to remain in the race for second place. Turkey already looks like the sure winner of the group, and by beating Belgium at home can secure them first place. So all eyes will be on France and Ukraine, with both teams still competing for that precious second place.
The last group is still very open and current leaders Great Britain can qualify for Eurobasket 2009 by going for one more win; the team plays its last two games against their direct opponents. The difficulty of the task is that the games are abroad; plus, both the Czech Republic and Bosnia-Herzegovina are known as tough places to win a game. And the real misery in the Great Britain story is that, since GB only beat Israel by less than 11 points, two defeats could mean a last-place finish in the group.