by Dan Casey
|Paulius Zalys made a big contribution to Lithuania's final win with 15 points on 7/10 shooting|
With relegation to Divison B already decided, and Lithuania already confirmed in 13th place, only pride was on the line in the final two games in Hradec Kralove.
This didn't stop Montenegro and Poland from serving up an entertaining game, with Poland's Mikolaj Witlinski denying Montenegro a farewell victory with two baskets in the final 40 seconds to give Poland a 77-75 win.
Luka Savic's free-throw put Montenegro 75-72 ahead with 1:14 remaining, but Witlinski hit a jump-shot with 33 seconds remaining and then converted a lay-up plus the free throw with 7 seconds left to give Poland the lead at 77-75. Montenegro couldn't get a shot off, and Poland held on for the victory.
Poland were 44-42 ahead at half-time but fell behind after a strong third period from Montenegro in a tight game throughout. Witlinski's double-double (25 points, 10 rebounds) led Poland, and Damian Jeszke added 23 points. Bartosz Wrobel scored 15 points and Kamil Zywert had 10 assists and 4 steals.
Milovan Draskovic scored 14 points and grabbed 9 rebounds and 3 steals for Montenegro, and Petar Saric also had 14 points. Luka Savic added 12 points and Nikola Agramovic had 11 points.
In the other game, Lithuania held tournament top-scorer Aleksandar Vezenkov to 4-18 shooting and used a balanced attack to beat Bulgaria 103-82. Leading 47-32 at half-time, Lithuania scorched the Bulgarian team in the second half with 34 points to move into a decisive lead and finish the relegation group with a perfect 6-0 record.
All ten Lithuanian players used in the game had at least six points, and five players reached double-digit point totals. Paulius Zalys, Pijus Mykolaitis and Paulius Sakinis led scoring with 15 points. Three players also had 5 assists, including Aidas Kavaliauskas who also added 5 steals.
Vassil Stoimenov top-scored for Bulgaria with 20 points and added 6 assists, 5 rebounds and 5 blocks. Angel Peychinov added 16 points, 4 assists and 4 rebounds.
Bulgaria and Montenegro will play in Division B next year. They will be replaced by England and Slovenia, who both confirmed their promotion to Division A on Saturday in FYR of Macedonia.