PRAGUE (FIBA EuroBasket Women 2017) - Belgium, France, Greece, Latvia and Turkey became the first countries to qualify for the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2018, joining tournament hosts Spain and Olympic champions USA.
The top five teams at FIBA EuroBasket Women in Czech Republic earned qualification, meaning that the four winners of Thursday's Quarter-Finals guaranteed their place.
Belgium weathered the storm to pull away from Italy in the fourth quarter, with EuroLeague Women and WNBA star Emma Meesseman excelling with 28 points, 11 boards, 5 assists and 5 blocks.
The victory also ensured Belgium's best-ever finish at the tournament, a feat that Greece repeated within hours with a comprehensive victory over Turkey. FIBA EuroBasket Women 2009 MVP Evanthia Maltsi dazzled at 38 years of age, notching 25 points and 10 rebounds in the win.
A strong team effort led France to a comfortable victory over Slovak Republic in the last Quarter-Final, with 11 players on the scoresheet, led by 13 points from Valeriane Ayayi.
Saturday's Classification Games for 5th to 8th place took on extra significance then, with both being effectively direct playoff games for qualification to the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2018.
Latvia reached the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup for the first time in their history with a pulsating one-point victory over Italy. Raffaella Masciadri's attempted game-winner rimmed out, sparking wild celebrations after Anete Steinberga's free throws had given Latvia the lead.
Turkey sealed the final qualification spot by cruising to victory over Slovak Republic. Quanitra Hollingsworth led the way with 20 points, and Birsel Vardarli Demirmen dished out 10 assists.
Seven of the 16 participants for the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2018 are now known, with the remainder to be determined at continental events later in 2017.