|19 August 2009|
It's oh so easy to put the cart before the horse in sports and no doubt Belgian basketball fans are already looking ahead to a mouthwatering showdown with France for the right to play at the EuroBasket in Poland.
Belgium's players, however, are trying to block the French out of their minds.
Their only concern is Portugal, the team they have to beat on Thursday to win Group B of the Additional Qualifying Round ahead of Bosnia and Herzegovina. If that happens, Eddy Casteels' men can then begin to devise a strategy to combat a France team that many believe is good enough to not only reach the EuroBasket but also win it.
Jef Van der Jonckheyd, after leading Belgium with 20 points in a 102-79 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina on Monday, said: "We're now flirting with a group victory and a double confrontation with France. But you can be sure that Thursday's game against the eliminated team of Portugal will be no joke."
Portugal have lost all three of their Additional Qualifying Round games so far but by narrow margins.
A country that finished ninth at the EuroBasket two years ago in Spain, the Portuguese would like nothing more than to play the role of spoiler for Belgium.
Such a thought does not sit well with Van der Jonckheyd.
"We can't afford to fail there," he said.