|04 September 2012|
|Sharp-shooting Petteri Koponen could see his efforts rewarded as early as Wednesday - Finland hold their fate entirely in their hands after an explosive 5-0 start|
National teams striving to make it to the EuroBasket next year are at the business end of the Qualification Round.
There is no room for error in any of the six groups as even the sides that are safely through still have something to play for.
Every result counts, as it affects a team's win/loss percentage.
A team could finish first in a group, yet still end up with a lower ranking for the Final Round next summer than a side that finished second in another yet had a better win/loss percentage.
The top two sides in each of the six groups will progress to the Final Round, as will the four best third-place teams.
Germany, Finland, Georgia and Sweden are among those that can clinch spots in the EuroBasket with wins on Wednesday.
Here is a closer look at the overall scenario.
Iceland and/or the Slovak Republic (both 1-6) will lose even their slim mathematical chances of fighting for third place if they fall on Wednesday. The former travel to Israel (4-3) and the latter play at Serbia (4-3). Estonia (4-3) are looking to stay in the hunt when they face Montenegro (7-0), the only team who has already qualified from this group, in Podgorica.
If Sweden (3-2) prevail at Azerbaijan, Brad Dean's men will have two victories against their Wednesday hosts and cannot finish below them. And if Germany (5-0), who are at home, also win against Bulgaria later on, not only would the Svetislav Pesic-coached team seal its passage to EuroBasket 2013, but Sweden's as well. Bulgaria and Azerbaijan are both 3-3 so wins for them would keep them in contention for an automatic qualification spot.
If Croatia win at home against Ukraine, they will top the group since they edged the first meeting in Ukraine. If Mike Fratello's squad prevail by two points or more, they would take first place if the results of the two teams in their remaining games are equal. Hungary (2-3) and Austria (2-4) are going into their clash looking to win at all costs. If Hungary win, Austria are out of contention for third place.
Georgia (4-1) will be in the Final Round of a EuroBasket for the second time in a row if they overcome Bosnia and Herzegovina (4-2) in Tbilisi. The Georgians won the first meeting by a point in Sarajevo, so another triumph would give them a sweep. Should Georgia win, and if Latvia were to beat the Netherlands later on, the Latvians would only need to win one of their two remaining games to go through, regardless of what Bosnia and Herzegovina do in their last game. That's because Latvia have a better goal differential in the two meetings between the sides.
Red-hot Finland (5-0) will advance to the EuroBasket Final Round if they stay unbeaten on Wednesday when they host Poland (4-2). In fact, even if the Finns were to lose to the Poles but win either of their last two games, they would still go though because that would mean they could not finish worse than third in their group with a 6-2 record. In three out of the other five groups, there is not a single team that could finish third with a better record than that. Belgium (3-2) play at Switzerland (2-4) and regard the game a must-win for their chances.
If the Czech Republic (4-2) win on Wednesday at home to Portugal (0-5) and Turkey (3-2) lose at home to already qualified Italy (6-0), the Czechs would have an excellent chance of going through. That's because they won their first game against Turkey by 18 points, and they would only need to protect that margin when the two teams meet next week in order to advance on a tie-breaker.