Filip Videnov got his team going and veteran Todor Stoykov completed the job as Bulgaria defeated Ukraine 80-77 in their first EuroBasket qualifying round match-up.
Stoykov scored 27, none bigger than his five points in the final minute of the game.
After a pair of Artem Shvets free throws got the Ukraine to within two points, 75-73, with just over a minute to play, Stoykov scored on a driving lay-up to put his side back in front by four, 77-73, with 54 seconds remaining.
|Todor Stoykov scored five points in the final minute of the game.|
Oleksandr Skutyelnik made one of two free throws for the Ukraine with eight seconds remaining to make the score 79-77.
Stoykov was fouled with three seconds to go. He made the first, to make the score 80-77, but missed the second and Oleksiy Pecherov grabbed the rebound for the Ukraine.
With no timeouts remaining, Ukraine couldn’t get a final shot off and Bulgaria took their first step towards qualifying for EuroBasket 2007.
"The biggest difference is the number of turnovers," said Ukrainian coacg Vitaly Lebedintsev.
"We committed 14, Bulgaria only five. We had chance to win, but with one point difference in the last minute we missed two very important rebounds."
Videnov did the scoring damage early for Bulgaria by scoring 13 of his 20 points in the opening minutes of the game to help Bulgaria to an early 17-9 advantage.
Of those 13, nine came via three from downtown.
Ukraine followed with an 11-3 run which helped them get 22-23 after one quarter.
Stoykov scored 13 points in the second quarter. His jumper with 3:04 to go before the half followed by a three-pointer on the next Bulgarian possession allowed his team to go ahead 46-34.
Ukraine outscored Bulgaria 8-2 before the end of the second quarter and went into halftime trailing 48-42.
A 10-0 run midway through the third gave the Ukraine their first lead since the opening moments of the game.
Pecherov started the run with a three, Shvets connected from downtown , Podorvannyy hit a jumper and Pecherov capped the spurt with a lay-up to put Ukraine ahead 55-52.
Bulgaria had an immediate response by scoring nine unanswered – five coming from Videnov and four from Stoykov – and went into the fourth with a six-point lead.
Ukraine chipped away at the lead and five straight points courtesy of a lay-up from Artur Drozdov and a three from Podorvannyy cut the Bulgaria advantage to 73-71with just over three minutes to go.
But Stoykov’s scoring down the stretch allowed Bulgaria to preserve the win.
"As we have expected, Stoykov and Videnov were the stars of Bulgarian team," said Lebedintsev.
Ukraine had five players tally double-digit scoring, led by Drozdov’s 16.
"I am satisfied with the win, but not happy," said Bulgaria coach Rossen Barchovski.
"We have to change something in offense. Today we had three players with more than 10 points, and Ukraine had five."