EUROBASKET 2015 1QR
|Worthy De Jong was one of five players in double digits for the Netherlands)|
Estonia came back from an 18-point deficit but the Netherlands held on to register a 74-71 win at home in the two teams' opening game in Group B of the EuroBasket 2015 1st Qualification Round.
After the Dutch claimed their first lead in the encounter three minutes after tip-off, they started making the most of their ability to score in transition and Estonia's poor shooting selection and pulled away steadily, until they reached a 38-20 lead midway through the second quarter.
Estonia however, who got 17 points off Dutch turnovers, regained their offensive balance and improved their shooting accuracy to begin chipping away on the deficit.
The Dutch still held a 42-33 lead at the half-time interval but their advantage would drop even further in the second half, albeit they stayed in the driver's seat at all times thanks to their superiority on the glass (rebounds 42-27 for the hosts).
The Netherlands went into the final two minutes with a five-point advantage and both teams wasted valuable possessions before Estonia's Gregor Arbet sunk a triple with 21 seconds left on the clock to reduce the gap to just two points, 71-69.
Estonia immediately fouled Sean Cunningham, who split two free throws to make it 72-69 for the Netherlands, with 16 second left to play.
The Dutch however defended well and rather than allowing their guests to attempt a three-pointer to tie the scores, Robin Smeulders stole the ball and was fouled.
The big man hit both of his shots from the line to give his team a five-point cushion, 74-69, and effectively seal victory 10 seconds from the final buzzer, as the only thing Estonia could do on their final possession was to reduce the final point differential on a Janar Talts dunk.
Five players scored in double digits for the winners, with Joshua Duinker and Kees Akerboom collecting 13 points each, the former also picking up eight rebounds.
Estonia's Reinar Hallik led all scorers with 20 points while Talts finished with 17 points and nine boards in a losing effort.