World Cup qualifying enters final days, with 10 spots left
There are still 10 spots left unclaimed for this summer’s Basketball World Cup, with all but one of them expected to be decided on Sunday.
Angola became the 22nd team to qualify for the 32-team field, getting in on Saturday.
Also already having qualified for the World Cup: co-hosts Japan and the Philippines, Australia, Canada, China, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Jordan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, New Zealand, Slovenia, South Sudan, Spain and the U.S.
The U.S. is in. Canada is in.
And on Sunday’s last day of qualifying games, six teams are playing for five World Cup berths.
It’s a somewhat complex formula. There are two groups of six teams, and the top three teams from each group — plus the best fourth-place team — will qualify.
Canada won Group E and is 10-1. The U.S. won Group F and is 9-2. Their berths are locked.
Everything else will be decided Sunday.
In Group E, Argentina, Venezuela and Dominican Republic are all 8-3. In Group F, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Brazil are all 7-4.
In Group F, Puerto Rico plays at Colombia, Mexico plays at Uruguay and the U.S. plays at Brazil. It’s a meaningless game for the Americans, standings-wise — but not in terms of pride.
“We came down here to get two,” U.S. coach Jim Boylen said after the Americans won at Uruguay to clinch their World Cup berth on Thursday.
The Group E games have Bahamas at Panama, Canada at Venezuela and the Dominican Republic at Argentina. The winner of that game in Mar del Plata is certain to advance.
There are three spots still unclaimed from Europe.
Group I — This will be the last berth to get decided, because the games are on Monday.
Serbia will advance if it beats Britain. If Serbia loses that game, Belgium would advance by beating Turkey. And if Belgium loses, Serbia advances regardless of its Monday result.
Group K — Another spot will go to either Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, or Hungary. Montenegro advances with a win over the Czech Republic. Bosnia has to win over Hungary and have Montenegro lose. And Hungary has to not only have Montenegro lose, but it must beat Bosnia by at least 41 points. All those games are Sunday.
Group L — Georgia and Iceland will play Sunday in Tbilisi to decide the last berth from Group L.
It’s simple: If Georgia wins, it goes to the World Cup. If Georgia loses by three points or fewer, it still goes to the World Cup. If Iceland wins by four points or more, it goes to the World Cup.
There’s one spot left. This one doesn’t require much tiebreaker math.
Iran and Kazakhstan are the last teams left with hope. If Iran beats China, it qualifies. If Kazakhstan beats Australia and Iran loses, Kazakhstan qualifies.
Angola is headed to the World Cup for the ninth time.
The berth was clinched Saturday with an 80-67 win over Cape Verde. Angola became the fourth team to qualify from the Africa Region, joining Ivory Coast, South Sudan and Egypt.
There’s one spot left, with FIBA saying Tunisia, Senegal, Cape Verde and Nigeria remain in the running.
Sunday’s schedule has Uganda vs. Guinea, Cameroon vs. Senegal, Cape Verde vs. Ivory Coast, Tunisia vs. Congo, Nigeria vs. Angola and South Sudan vs. Egypt.
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Tim Reynolds, The Associated Press