|Filip Videnov's 18 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists sparked Bulgaria in the vital win over Belgium|
Bulgaria kept their hopes of a place at EuroBasket 2011 in Lithuania alive after toppling Group C leaders Belgium 92-81 in Sofia. Filip Videnov once again led his team in style with a typically all action display as the home side ensured Belgium would have to wait a little longer before celebrating.
Videnov registered 18 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists in the victory as Bulgaria gained the upper hand early and never relinquished their grip until the final buzzer confirmed a vital win.
Belgium started the game with a 10-6 advantage but an 11-4 spurt by the hosts after a triple by Videnov and back-to-back baskets by Stefan Georgiev put them in the driving seat.
A three-pointer by Asen Velikov meant the home team finished the first quarter with a real flourish and that opened up a healthy 24-13 advantage.
Within seconds, another perimeter score, this time by Chavdar Kostov had Belgium deep in trouble and it would have been a lot worse had they not been able to keep in touch to some extent through the shooting of Dimitri Lauwers.
He bagged himself a couple of three-pointers during the second quarter to prevent Bulgaria from running riot and threatening a blowout.
Consequently, while still generally dominant, Bulgaria only led by 52-42 at the interval with the visitors knowing it could have been a lot worse.
When Marcus Faison scored five points to start the second half for Belgium, a comeback looked to be coming but it was as near as they would get as the home team squashed their revival hopes.
They shrugged off their lax start to the third and shifted through the gears smoothly to head into the last quarter 73-57 ahead, meaning they could canter to victory.
Kaloyan Ivanov produced a nice cameo for Bulgaria with 9 points and 11 rebounds while Lauwers finished with 21 points for Belgium.
Belgium Head Caoch Eddy Casteels:
"I didn't see a game, I saw only fighting. I really respect very much men like Videnov and Stoykov. We play every year in Bulgaria last three years, and I respect this. It was an ugly game, and everybody saw it. It was not basketball, but streetball. I respect a lot my players. I respect warriors too, such is the case with the Ivanov brothers. They always have been winners. Now the situation in our group is very complicated. We knew that we always have to win at home. Poland is very strong team, like Bulgaria. But we will do our best to win and qualify on the floor."
Bulgaria Player Asen Velikov:
"It was really hard. We are very happy that we won and we saved our chances to qualify. We will be more confident now before the game in Georgia. We can win there."
Bulgaria Head Coach Rosen Barchovski:
"It was a very nervous game. We lost unfortunately in Poland and our chances were not so good. The incident wasn't good for us, because we won emotions, but we lost quality - we lost Deyan, who started the game very well, we lost Varbanov, who is very tall and we need him. I am proud with everybody, but I should mention the young players. It is not the first time, that Velikov, Ivan Lilov and Alexander Georgiev played very well for us, but, today they played very well. I am sad, we could win with bigger difference. Now we have to get ready for Georgia.