Finland Clinch First With Comeback At Portugal

24.08.2011

EUROBASKET AQR

Petteri Koponen - Finland
Petteri Koponen proved a nightmare for the Portuguese defence, finishing with a game-high 26 points and nine assists

Finland overcame a 14-point deficit in the third quarter and beat Portugal 86-78 in Coimbra on Wednesday night to clinch first place in the Additional Qualifying Round of the EuroBasket.

The triumph allowed the Finns to remain unbeaten in the AQR at 4-0 and more importantly put them in Group C of the Final Round of the EuroBasket with Greece, Bosnia and Herzegovina, FYR of Macedonia, Croatia and Montenegro.

The setback for Portugal dropped them to 2-2 in the AQR with both losses against Finland.

Mario Palma's team will now have to go up against defending champions Spain, Turkey, tournament hosts Lithuania, Great Britain and Poland in Group A.

Both teams had already accomplished their main aim of advancing to the Final Round but first place was still up for grabs and Portugal needed to win by more than 12 points - the margin of their first defeat to Finland - to finish top.

Twice Portugal went in front by 14 in the third quarter following baskets by veterans Elvis Evora and Miguel Miranda, but the Finns closed the frame with an 11-0 run to pull to within 61-58.

Veteran point guard Teemu Rannikko had a three-pointer and two free-throws in that spurt.

Another Rannikko shot from the arc put the visitors on top, 66-65, with just under seven minutes remaining.

A pair of free-throws by Carlos Andrade, a three-point play by Filipe da Silva and Joao Santos' three-pointer with 5:37 left put the Portuguese back in to a 73-66 lead, but Henrik Dettmann's team didn't allow the advantage to grow.

Instead, Kimmo Muurinen's jump shot started a 6-0 Finnish run and the visitors took the lead for good when Rannikko buried another three-pointer - his fifth from seven attempts - to put his side in front at 78-76 with 1:13 remaining.

While Rannikko hit a lot of big shots and finished with 21 points, the leading scorer for Finland was Petteri Koponen.

The shooting guard walked off the floor with a game-high 26 points.

Koponen also came up an assist shy of a double-double.

For Portugal, Joao Santos had 19 points, Miranda 17, da Silva 15, Andrade 13 and Evora 12.


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