Stakes raised as Greece seek passage to China
Greece are one step closer to reaching the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China, but plenty of work remains for the Ethniki after the dust settled on the first round of European qualifying this week…
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Greece’s path to the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China came into further focus this past week after the Ethniki put the finishing touches on a successful first round of qualifying.
A final set of wins over Israel and Estonia saw Greece improve to 6-0 in the first round of qualifying, allowing Greece to finish first in Group H by quite some distance over second-placed Israel and third-placed Estonia – both of whom will join Greece as qualifiers out of the group.
While Greece won’t face Israel and Estonia again during this qualifying campaign, the pair of countries will join Greece in the second round in a newly-formed Group L that also includes the top three sides from Group G.
Germany lead the trio of sides from Group G after the Germans also finished the first round of qualifying with a 6-0 record. Serbia, whose only losses in the first round came at the hands of Germany, also qualified out of Group G. Meanwhile, Georgia’s two wins over Austria kept the Georgians on the path to China as the Georgians round-out the trio of clubs progressing from Group G.
Group L, which comes with the reward of progressing to the FIBA World Cup with a top-three finish, will feature six matchdays of qualifiers as Greece and the rest of the teams from Group H will host and travel to the each of the three countries that advanced from Group G.
Greece’s Group L slate will begin with a home date against Serbia on 13 September before travelling to Tbilisi to take on Georgia on 16 September. When qualification resumes in late November, Greece will host Germany on 30 November before travelling to Belgrade to visit Balkan rivals Serbia. Greece’s qualifying campaign will wrap-up in February 2019 when Greece plays the reverse fixtures against Georgia in Greece and Germany away from home.
Group L is just one of four groups in the second round of European zone qualifying for the FIBA World Cup, with the likes of reigning European Champions Slovenia joining the likes of Spain, Turkey, Latvia, Montenegro, and the Ukraine in a tight Group I.
In Group J, Lithuania lead the way with a 6-0 record from the first round and are favourites to progress from the section while Italy, Poland, the Netherlands, Croatia, and Hungary all look to clinch a ticket to China.
Group K, meanwhile, sees France start the second round with a narrow lead over the Czech Republic and a slightly larger lead over Russia and Finland who sport a 3-3 record from the first round. Bulgaria and Bosnia and Herzegovina round-out the remining sides in the group.
2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup Qualification – Europe
Czech Republic 5-1