Finns Strike Early, Stay On Top Of Georgia

13.09.2006

Finland used a 14-0 first-quarter run against Georgia on Wednesday as a platform for a 91-81 victory in a EuroBasket Division B battle of unbeatens.

Having prevailed against Austria and Iceland in their other two encounters, the Finns showed they are for real against a Georgia side that many expect to win Group C and go on to earn promotion.

Trailing 13-11 after Zaza Pachulia split two free throws, Henrik Dettmann's Finland went on their big surge for a 25-13 lead.

Petri Virtanen buried a three-pointer and a shot inside the arc to spark the run that Georgia never recovered from.

"I'll give my team A+ on our defence in the first half," said Dettmann.

Georgia never gave up and midway through the fourth quarter they closed to 75-65 after a basket and then two more free throws by Pachulia, who would end up with a game-high 36 points and 13 rebounds.

But Finland's Hanno Möttölä and Tuukka Kotti replied with jump shots on consecutive trips down the floor to re-establish a 14-point lead and Finland finished impressively.

"In the second half Zaza Pachulia punished us, but we have to remember that he is one of the best inside player in the game," Dettmann added. 

"I am still proud of my players and the way they handled the pressure in the end."

"There was only one team on the court today," added Georgia coach Gordon Herbert. 

"Finland played with high self-confidence and was better than us especially in the team play. I am ashamed of our performance, especially in the defensive end of the floor."

Virtanen, a 1.83m point guard, finished with 27 points. 

"I don't know if it was the best game I have ever player, but it certainly was the most fun," he said. 

"Our team was rolling and I had my moments too. My teammates helped me to get some open looks and the shots were falling." 

Finland have three wins in as many games while Georgia dropped to 3-1.


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