EUROBASKET WOMEN QUALIFIERS
|Anastasiya Verameyenka and Belarus have a clear target, to win whichever one of their two remaining games - it is not such a straightforward affair for most teams|
Although there will still be two game-days left in the EuroBasket Women Qualification Round following Saturday's encounters, the fate of a number of magic tickets to France could very well be decided at the weekend.
There is indeed a number of permutations that could see the situation in up to four of the five Qualification Round groups resolved prematurely. The top two teams in each group secure a trip to France next summer.
* How they stand: Belarus (6) 5-1; Ukraine (6) 4-2; Hungary (5) 3-2; Israel (5) 2-3; Portugal (6) 0-6
Belarus would be through to the Final Round with a win on Saturday in Israel, but not necessarily as first in the group.
The advantage of Belarus over their group rivals is that they face a straightforward task, in that they need to win at least one of their two remaining games to seal qualification.
However, if they lose to Ukraine by more than 5 points on Wednesday and Ukraine also beat Hungary, then Ukraine will top the group and Belarus will be second.
Despite appearances though, Hungary are not in an unfavourable position.
Unlike their opponents, they have three games remaining and if they win all three and Ukraine lose in Belarus on Wednesday, they don't even need to worry about the goal average, despite their 5-point loss in Ukraine earlier in the campaign.
Israel still have mathematical chances, but they need to win all three of their remaining games and Ukraine to drop at least one of theirs.
* How they stand: Montenegro (6) 5-1; Poland (5) 4-1; Serbia (5) 3-2; Switzerland (6) 2-4; Estonia (6) 6-0
A Montenegro road win in Poland on Saturday will mean they top the group and leave Poland and Serbia sort out the second-spot situation between themselves.
If Poland win on Saturday though, the result could lead to a three-way tie in which the Serbia v. Poland clash on 11 July would probably prove the deciding factor.
Poland had won the reverse fixture on home soil by two points.
* How they stand: Lithuania (6) 5-1; Slovenia (6) 4-2; Slovak Republic (5) 4-1; Netherlands (5) 1-4; Belgium (6) 0-6
If Lithuania wins in Slovakia they will finish first even if Belgium, still without a win after six games, manages to pull an upset in their last game.
If things don't go the Baltic team's way on Saturday though, they will be very mindful of at least defending the 14-point difference they carry from the reverse fixture.
That is because if Slovakia prevails over the Lithuanians and Slovenia also beats the now indifferent Dutch on Saturday, the Slovaks will find themselves with one win more than both their rivals and also a game in hand.
This scenario could easily lead to a three-way or two-way tie at the top, where every point counts.
* How they stand: Sweden (6) 5-1; Spain (6) 4-2; Germany (5) 3-2; Romania (6) 2-4; Bulgaria (5) 0-5
If both Sweden and Spain win on Saturday, Sweden are top of the group, regardless of that happens in their last game against Germany, and Spain second.
But it's not all doom and gloom for the Germans, since if they overcome Spain on Saturday and then Sweden too on Wednesday, they will qualify together with the Swedes and Spain will be left out.
* How they stand: Latvia (6) 4-2; Italy (5) 4-1; Finland (6) 3-3; Greece (5) 3-2; Luxembourg (6) 0-6
Saturday will not see the four-horse race in this group resolved, no matter what the results are.
Latvia, Italy, Greece and Finland still hold their own fate in their hands one way or another but none of them will have the luxury of clinching qualification already this weekend.