Belgium provided the biggest surprise of the EuroBasket qualifying campaign thus far by handing Group C favourites Russia a 91-80 defeat.
A key 10-0 first quarter run put Belgium ahead and a 17-3 spurt in the third quarter sealed Russia’s fate and allowed Eddy Casteels’ side to even their mark at 1-1.
Belgium had six players in double figures, led by Axel Hervelle’s 24, and prevailed despite 33 points from Russian point guard JR Holden.
|Jon Robert Holden scored 33 points for Russia.|
With the score tied at 14 in the first quarter, Belgium scored 10 unanswered point to take a 24-14 advantage.
Ilunga Mbenga scored six of the 10 points during the spurt on a pair of jumpers and a lay-up to give Belgium a double-digit lead.
Russia’s Sergey Bykov scored with seven seconds remaining in the first quarter to break the run and put his side down eight going into the second.
Belgium then scored another seven unanswered at the outset of the second stanza.
Roel Moors hit a three-pointer, Christophe Beghin made a lay-up and Gerben Van Dorpe dunked to extend the run to 17-2 and put Belgium in front 31-16.
Holden brought Russia back, scoring 10 points over a 6:35 stretch in the second quarter and David Blatt’s team went into halftime trailing 43-33.
Holden scored 18 points in the first half.
Russia scored the first six points of the second half.
Sergey Monya hit a three-pointer and Holden connected for a traditional three-point play as he was fouled, made the lay-up and then connected on the ensuing free-throw to bring Russia to within four, 43-39.
But Belgium answered with a 17-3 clinching run over the next 3:30 minutes to open up a 60-42 advantage midway through the third.
Moors started the run by drilling a three-pointer and Belgium made their next five field goals without missing to take complete control of the game.
Beghin scored on a lay-up with eight seconds remaining in the third to push Belgium’s lead to 72-54 going into the fourth.
Belgium answered each Russia attempt at a comeback in the fourth quarter.
Holden’s three-pointer midway through the fourth got Russia to within 10, but free-throws from Dimitri Lauwers and a three from Guy Muya put Belgium back ahead by 14.
Monya connected on three-pointers at the 4:28 and 3:48 mark to get Russia to within single-digits for the first time in the fourth quarter, 82-73.
But Hervelle made a pair of free-throws and following a Monya three-point miss, Hervelle hit a three putting Belgium up 87-73 with 2:43 left in the game, which all but wrapped up Belgium’s impressive victory.
Russia will try to rebound from their loss when they host the Czech Republic in Perm this Wednesday, September 6th.
Belgium will also resume their qualifying campaign on Wednesday when they host Hungary.