|26 August 2009|
Belarus narrowly avoided an upset at Albania on Wednesday to clinch first place in Group B in EuroBasket Division B and advance to the play-offs.
Winners of all five games before falling at home to Switzerland on Saturday, Aliaksandr Papkou's team travelled to Albania and scraped a 76-75 win.
Aliaksandr Kudrautsau had an outstanding performance for Belarus, pouring in a game-high 25 points.
His previous best in this EuroBasket Division B campaign had been 17 against Cyprus.
The Albania fans who turned up to watch saw their team take a 75-74 lead when Erkand Karaj went to the charity stripe and made two free-throws 37 seconds from the end.
Belarus went back in front when Pavel Ulyanko dunked eight seconds later.
Following an Albanian timeout, Karaj missed a jump shot and the hosts ended up fouling Aliaksei Trastsinetski with five seconds remaining.
The 2.01m forward was off target with both attempts, but as Albania tried to hurry the ball up the floor, Belarus' Siarhei Charykau picked off Karaj's pass before time expired.
Albania fell to 2-5 with the setback which left no team with a chance of pulling level with Belarus at the top of the group.
The Swiss won 81-69 over Romania to improve to 5-3 and drop Romania to 2-5.
NBA star Thabo Sefolosha led Switzerland with 21 points and teammate Vladimir Buscaglia contributed 19.