Bulgaria Punch Ticket To Semi-Finals

13 August 2013
4. Deyan Ivanov (Bulgaria)
Deyan Ivanov stood out for Bulgaria with 19 points and 8 rebounds

Bulgaria came back from 12 points down on Tuesday to edge out Iceland 81-79 on the road, clinch top spot in Group A of the EuroBasket 2015 1st Qualification Round and qualify to the semi-finals.

The Balkan side have become the first team to secure their passage to the last four of the competition, while Iceland will travel to Romania on Friday to play out a game that will only decide who takes second place in the group.

Iceland entered the Tuesday clash with intend and took the initiative right from tip-off, riding the hot hand of veteran guard Jon Stefansson who was unstoppable on the night and finished with a game-high 32 points.

The hosts reached the half-time interval leading 41-33 and when consecutive baskets by Jacob Sigurdarson and Stefansson at the start of the third quarter gave them a 12-point lead, Iceland seemed to be well placed to celebrate a crucial victory.

But Bozhidar Avramov reacted swiftly by hitting two triples in quick succession that switched the momentum in Bulgaria's favour, and Kaloyan Ivanov gave the guests a 50-49 lead with an and-one play 3:43 from the end of the third quarter.

The two teams exchanged blows unable to escape each other's tight grip until Bulgaria used a 5-0 run, capped by a Deyan Ivanov lay-up with just 1:05 left to play, to take a vital four-point cushion, 77-73.

Branko Mirkovich split two free throws 5 seconds from time to make it 81-79 for Bulgaria and Stefansson missed the final shot at the buzzer to tie the scored and force overtime.

Deyan Ivanov led Bulgaria with 19 points and eight rebounds, his twin brother Kaloyan collected a double-double of 14 points and 14 rebounds and Mirkovich finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and six assists.


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