Right, BallinEurope has spent a few hours with some of the brains behind heinnews and BasketNews.lt in an attempt to hash out the implications of today’s EuroBasket games vis-à-vis the next round of play. Today is the last game of the first round and, as far as we can tell, seven teams of the possible 14 have clinched spots in Groups E and F, plus an eighth essentially needs only to show up. As we see it, the following is the situation.
• Spain and Lithuania are in; Portugal is out.
• Poland advances with a win against Great Britain today.
• Turkey can advance with a win against Spain plus a Poland loss.
• Britain, incredibly for a team that didn’t even have a viable national basketball program at the beginning of the decade and just yesterday posted its first-ever win in a major international tournament, remains alive. However, they would need a Turkey loss plus a 57-point win against Poland, due to the point-differential tiebreaker.
• This one’s easy, at least. Serbia, France and Germany are in. Serbia and France face off today to determine which will bring a 2-0 record forward to Group E.
• We’ll get to Group C in a minute … trust BiE: That’s where things get ugly. From this one, Slovenia and Russia advance; like Serbia and France, these two will face off for group supremacy. This game is even more important, however, as the winner gets a big one-game advantage over any other Group F team by dint of a 2-0 carried-over record.
• Ukraine and Belgium are out.
• Georgia advances – in its first-ever EuroBasket bid, mind you – with a win over Bulgaria. Likewise, Bulgaria would advance with a win over Georgia, unless…
• …oddly enough, Bulgaria could still win and get knocked out of tournament. If Ukraine beats Belgium and Bulgaria wins, a three-way tie would be created to thus necessitate a 14-point win by Bulgaria over Georgia, due to that second tiebreaker.
• Unfortunately for these teams in any scenario, either Georgia or Ukraine will start Group F at 0-2, with both having taken losses to Russia and Slovenia.
• Ready for this? Here’s the easy bit: Montenegro has been eliminated.
• Greece is in with win and would take FYR Macedonia along with them, regardless of the outcome of the Macedonia-Bosnia & Herzegovina game.
• Finland – yes, Finland – is in if they win against Montenegro, plus Macedonia and Greece win.
• Bosnia & Herzegovina advances with a win over FYR Macedonia, plus a Croatia loss to Greece.
• Croatia advances with a win, plus a Macedonia victory.
• Now. If Croatia wins and FYR Macedonia loses, things get really sticky. This situation creates a logjam of four teams – Greece, Macedonia, Croatia, and Bosnia & Herzegovina – all tied at 3-2. As it stands, the point differential currently works out thusly: Macedonia, +16; Bosnia & Herzegovina, +3; Greece, minus-5; Croatia, minus-14. In this situation, one can assume that Macedonia still goes through – barring an absolute collapse – and Bosnia & Herzegovina would automatically get a spot with their positive point-differential, meaning everything would come down to the result of the Greece-Croatia game. Also, any three teams emerging in this scenario would bring a 1-1 record to Group F.
What’s that? You want the Official BallinEurope Fearless Predictions™? I thought you’d never ask. Okay, this is how BiE sees Groups E and F turning out…
FYR Macedonia, 1-1
Bosnia & Herzegovina, 1-1
Of course, we’ll know for sure in a couple of hours … games five coming up!