Ukraine and Spain meet in a FIBA World Cup qualification game at at Arena Riga on Thursday at 5pm (UK time).
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With one game remaining Ukraine have secured a place in the next qualification round. Things didn’t get off to a good start as they’d suffer a five-point loss to Georgia, but Ukraine made amends next time out with a 78-61 victory over North Macedonia. However, they couldn’t maintain that momentum by suffering a second and most recent loss on the road at Spain (88-74). Since then it’s been two wins on the bounce over Georgia (79-66) and North Macedonia (68-73). Bogdan Bliznyuk has stood out for the Eastern European nation, the shooting guard is currently averaging 12 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. Last time out against Spain he bagged 14 points with 54.5% shooting accuracy (6/11). Not far behind him is Jerome Randle, the guard averages 12 points, 2.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. He posted 21 points and five assists in that loss to Spain in February.
As things currently stand, only Italy is statistically better than world champions Spain in this qualification phase. Spain are currently averaging 85.4 points per game and have suffered just one loss in their opening five games. Spain began with an emphatic 29-point win at North Macedonia (65-94), before dealing a similar fate to Georgia (89-61), Ukraine would also fall but their margin of defeat was more respectable (88-74). Following another thumping win over North Macedonia (80-44) the Spanish suffered a first loss at Georgia but the hosts needed overtime to run out 82-76 victors. Xabi Lopez-Arostegui is leading the way for Spain, the forward currently averages 11.6 points, 3 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. In the previous meeting with Ukraine he posed 15 points, with a 100% free throw and 3-point accuracy, plus three assists.