|Carlos Andrade paved the way for Portugal with 16 points, five rebounds and five assists |
Portugal managed to withhold a ferocious late assault by their hosts Estonia on Sunday and escape with a 72-66 victory from their opening game in EuroBasket 2015 1st Qualification Round Group B.
The Portuguese will now meet the Netherlands in a potentially crucial encounter on Wednesday, while Estonia are bottom of the three-team group with two losses in as many games.
The two teams exchanged blows for the first 12 minutes in the clash until Claudio Fonseca, with two excellent low-post plays on consecutive possessions, spurred a 15-3 Portugal run that enabled them to transform a slim 28-27 lead into a comfortable 43-30 cushion by the half-time buzzer.
That spurt was the exception in an encounter where neither team could enjoy a long stretch of dominance and when Mario-Gil Fernandes drilled a triple with 1:43 left to play in the third quarter to extend Portugal's lead to 60-41, the guests thought their job for the day was done.
But Estonia, cheered on by the local crowd, still had a lot left in the tank.
Tanel Sokk and Gregor Arbet hit big shots to inspire a fight-back in the final 12 minutes that fell short mainly because forward Carlos Andrade scored four points on back-to-back possessions to give Portugal some vital breathing space, 69-60, when there was 1:47 left on the clock.
Andrade led Portugal with 16 points, five rebounds and five assists, Joao Santos had 14 points and Fernandes finished with 13 points, seven boards and six assists.
Arbet finished with a game-high 20 points, Janar Talts picked up a double-double of 12 points and 13 rebounds and Sokk had 11 points and five rebounds for Estonia in losing efforts.