|19 August 2009|
Sweden overcame a magnificent effort from Slovakia point guard Anton Gavel on Wednesday to remain unbeaten in Group C of EuroBasket Division B.
Looking to win promotion, the Swedes prevailed 64-58 despite a game-high 19 points and eight assists from Gavel, who went into the contest averaging 13 points and three assists.
The triumph was Sweden's sixth in as many games and kept them in first place ahead of Georgia (5-1), who clinched a 98-73 victory at home over Ireland on Wednesday.
Georgia, beaten 61-59 at Sweden last year, host the Swedes on Saturday night in a battle that is likely to determine top spot in the group.
Sweden have so far played without their leading player, the Detroit Pistons' second-round pick Jonas Jerebko, this summer.
Jerebko averaged nearly 12 points and more than nine rebounds in the Scandinavian team's four wins last year.
Joakim Kjellbom had 18 points and six rebounds for Sweden on Wednesday.
Midway through the fourth quarter it appeared Kostas Flevarakis' team would claim a straightforward win but Slovakia had other ideas.
Trailing 53-44 after two Kenny Grant free-throws for Sweden, Slovakia got a jump shot from Gabriel Szalay and then a three-pointer from Gavel to cut the deficit to just four.
Grant made a lay-up to make it a six-point advantage, only for Gavel to take center stage.
He drilled another three and then came up with a steal and was fouled while making a jumper.
Flevarakis had seen enough and called a timeout.
When play resumed, Gavel made the free-throw to knot the score at 55-55 with 2:34 remaining.
Kjellbom went to the other end and scored for Sweden, and after Peter Rerko made just one of two free-throws for Slovakia, Kjellbom struck again - this time with a dunk off a pass from Grant.
Slovakia went cold shooting the ball the rest of the way and Sweden ended up adding several more points for a 64-58 win.
The Slovakians slumped to 2-3 in their Division B campaign.
The Irish (1-5) were no match for Georgia in Tbilisi, where 7,000 spectators turned up to watch.
George Tsintsadze had 19 points and 10 assists in the win.
The Georgians built a 48-34 lead by half-time and pressed home the advantage in the third period, opening up a 69-53 advantage with 10 minutes remaining.
Six players in all hit double digits in scoring for Georgia, including Viktor Sanikidze who had 15 rebounds to go with his 17 points.