|22 August 2009|
Switzerland defeated previously undefeated Belarus on Saturday 70-66 to maintain their slim hope of clinching top spot in Group B of EuroBasket Division B.
The Swiss, beaten at home by Belarus 81-77 last year, gained partial revenge with a 70-66 triumph in Mogilev.
The setback dropped Belarus to 5-1 while Switzerland improved to 4-3.
Vladimir Buscaglia had 17 points to lead the scoring for Switzerland.
The Swiss opened up a 61-52 lead with 6:04 remaining but Belarus battled back and eventually knotted the score at 65-65 with 1:06 to play after two free-throws by Yahor Meshcharakou.
Buscaglia drilled a three-pointer with 15 seconds to play for Switzerland, and Swiss star Westher Molteni then quickly fouled Belarus ace Aliaksandr Kudrautsau.
Kudrautsau made the first free-throw and missed the second, however, he grabbed the offensive rebound to give Belarus a chance to tie the game or go ahead with a three-ball.
Pavel Ulyanko was off target with a jumper inside the arc and then, much to annoyance of Belarus coach Aliaksandr Papkou, the hosts fouled Molteni who sank both free-throws for the crucial four-point Swiss lead that took away Belarus' goal advantage in the teams' two meetings.
Goal advantage is important if tie-breakers are called into play to determine group winners.
Belarus called timeout to draw up one final play, looking to score to regain the goal advantage, and Meshcharakou was able to put up a jump shot but he was off target.
Belarus are still favorites to win the group and need a victory against Albania or Cyprus in their remaining two games to seal first place.
Should they lose both to finish 5-3 and Switzerland also end up 5-3, a tie-breaker will be used to determined the group winners.
Albania had had a chance to also finish 5-3 before Saturday's play but they were beaten soundly in Cyprus, 91-56.
The Cypriots stormed out to a 26-11 lead early in the second quarter and never looked back in winning for the third time in seven games.
Alexandros Liatsos and Andreas Sizopoulos each had 14 points for Cyprus.
Albania dropped to 2-4 with the defeat.