Portugal Strikes First Blow In Final EuroBasket Qualifying Round; Hungary Falls

Portugal knocked off Hungary on Wednesday to strike the first blow in the final qualifying round for EuroBasket 2011. Three teams -- the two aforementioned nations and Finland -- are fighting for the final two spots in the EuroBasket field. That tournament begins on August 31 and will be held in Lithuania.

The additional qualifying round was needed because after the 2010 qualifying round, FIBA Europe decided to expand the EuroBasket field from 16 to 24. Portugal and Finland each finished 1-7 in last year's qualifying round, and Hungary finished 3-5. The competition was second-rung European teams -- no Spains, Russias, Turkeys or Serbias -- which makes those records especially frightful.

If not for EuroBasket expansion, this tournament would be a play-in for teams like Italy, Ukraine and Georgia, who were instead added to the championship field on account of performing fairly well in qualifying last summer. It's unlikely the two qualifiers from this last-chance round will win a single game at EuroBasket.

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