EUROBASKET 2015 1QR
|Aliaksandr Kudrautsau once again scored the clutch ponits for Belarus|
Aliaksandr Kudrautsau of Belarus scored the last four points on the game and his team clinched a 76-70 victory over Estonia in the first leg of their semi-final tie in the EuroBasket 2015 1st Qualification Round on Thursday.
Belarus led their guests for most of the encounter, went ahead 40-37 at the half-time interval and put in an enormous defensive effort during the third quarter to give up only six points and take a 51-43 lead at the end of the period.
The Thursday clash in Mogilev however could hardly have been more balanced and that eight-point lead was the biggest either side would take on the night.
It is indicative that both opponents took the exact same number of shots from the floor, with Belarus converting just one more than their guests (28 to 27).
Consequently, Estonia came back in the final frame and Kristian Kangur drilled a three-pointer with 1:37 left on the clock to reduce the gap to just one point, 69-68.
But on the crucial next possession and despite the fact there were still 10 seconds remaining on the shot-clock, Pavel Ulyanko took the responsibility and fired a triple to restore a four-point lead for Belarus, 72-68.
Tanel Sokk replied swiftly by driving to the Belarusian basket and reducing to 72-70 with a lay-up, but Kudrautsau kept his calm from the free-throw line to increase the gap to four points after Estonia wasted back-to-back shots.
The veteran shooting guard then sunk a jumper just three seconds from the final buzzer to give his team a six-point advantage for the second leg.
Kudrautsau paced the winners with 21 points, eight rebounds and two assists, Mikita Meshcharakou had 15 points and six boards and center Artsiom Parakhouski chipped in with 13 points and eight rebounds.
For Estonia, Reinar Hallik finished with 21 points and Rain Veideman added 12 points in a losing effort.
The return leg of the tie takes place on Sunday 25 August in Estonian capital Tallinn.