EUROBASKET 2015 1QR
|Adrian Gutoaia of Romania and Kaloyan Ivanov of Bulgaria battle for the ball|
Bulgaria pulled away from hosts Romania in the second half to clinch a vital 84-68 victory on Thursday, in Group A action in the EuroBasket 2015 1st Qualification Round.
The Bulgarians scored the first seven points in the encounter but Romania swiftly balanced proceedings, went ahead 21-20 at the end of the first quarter, and took a five-point lead early in the second frame.
The two opponents exchanged blows until the end of the period but Bulgaria reclaimed the lead on two free-throws by Branko Mirkovich 51 seconds from the half-time buzzer and the same player drilled a triple on the first possession in the third quarter to give his team a five-point cushion.
Bulgaria not only remained in the driver's seat until the final buzzer, but came up with a swift reply every time their hosts attempted to reduce the gap, as Romania were able to get easy baskets in the open floor (16 points in transition) but struggled offensively in five-on-five possessions.
The guests maintained a healthy cushion until approximately three minutes before the end of the clash, when they used an 8-0 run to extend their lead to 82-66 and avoid having to go through a stressful finale.
Bulgaria's Deyan Ivanov led all scorers with 27 points and added eight rebounds, his twin brother Kaloyan finished with 15 points and five boards, but the winners owe a lot to the brilliant display of the sharp-shooting Mirkovich, who collected 20 points and dished out a game-high six assists.
For Romania, point guard Rares Mandache had 18 points and shooting guard Brice Kabengele picked up 11 points in losing efforts.