EUROBASKET 2015 1QR
|Nikolay Varbanov was one of three players to pick up 12 points for the Bulgarians|
Bulgaria will carry a 21-point advantage into the second leg of their EuroBasket 1st Qualification Round semi-final tie with Switzerland after storming back from seven points down to win 92-71 in the first game on Thursday.
Playing at home in Sofia, Bulgaria were in control during the first half of the encounter, but unable to shake off their gutsy guests, had to conform with a slim 44-41 lead at the half-time buzzer.
Switzerland returned to the court after the interval determined to take advantage of their hosts' nerves and quickly claimed the lead, extending it to seven points, 56-49, midway through the third quarter.
Surprisingly, this development instilled a sudden sense of urgency in the hosts and their response was swift and powerful.
Chavdar Kostov immediately drilled a three-pointer, his first basket in the game, to spur a 19-5 Bulgaria run that saw them lead 68-61 at the end of the third period.
The hosts had seized the momentum in the clash but still wanted to make the most of it and take a sizeable cushion for the second leg.
They kept their foot firmly on the gas and started the final frame on a 15-2 run that gave them their first 20-point lead, 83-63, with 5:39 left on the clock.
Bulgaria were exhausted and Switzerland too shocked to think of reducing the gap in the final five minutes, leaving both sides wasting possessions and effectively keeping the point differential effectively unchanged until the final buzzer.
The hosts, who dished out 26 assists, had five players scoring in double digits with Aleksandar Georgiev collecting 13 points and Nikolay Varbanov, Veselin Veselinov and Kaloyan Ivanov contributing 12 points each.
Switzerland's Dusan Mladjan and Clint Capela finished with game-highs of 18 points apiece in defeat, the latter also adding five rebounds.
The return leg of the semi-final tie takes place in Switzerland on Sunday 25 August.