Georgia Beat Hosts In Thriller

4. Aleksandre Bolkvadze (Georgia)
Aleksandre Bolkvadze had 14 points and 5 rebounds in Georgia's close win

In Group A, Georgia survived a tense finale against hosts FYR of Macedonia to squeeze home in overtime, 70-69.

Zezva Liluashvili's free-throw secured the win, as Simeon Mitrov missed a potential game-tying free throw at the end for FYR of Macedonia. The tournament hosts now drop to 0-3.

Georgia had led by four at half-time, but a strong third quarter saw the home team come back to take the lead. After a tight fourth quarter, Kristijan Gavrilovski's lay-up tied the score at 58-58 with 0:26 remaining to force the overtime period.

Coach Igor Mihajlovski was frustrated in defeat. "We had chances in the final few seconds. I'm very disappointed with the final score, but this is basketball. One team takes the win, and today that was Georgia," said Mihajlovski after the game.

Nugzar Abuladze led Georgia with 17 points, and Archili Puluzashvili added 8 points, 6 rebounds and 7 blocked shots.

Ljubomir Mladenovski recorded a double-double in defeat (19 points, 11 rebounds).

In the other Group A game, England's defense restricted Luxembourg to just 3 first-quarter points on the way to an 81-64 win. England improve their record to 4-0.

Luxembourg did come back to 49-51 with 1:46 remaining in the third period. But a decisive 12-0 run in the final period secured progress to the Qualifying Round for the English team.

England coach Simon Fisher was looking for further progress after the game. "We passed our first target for the tournament. Our next step is the Semi-Finals," said coach Fisher.

Morayoninuoluwa Soluade top-scored with 18 points, but England were also thankful for a huge defensive performance from Kingsley Okoroh who registered 8 blocked shots, including 4 in the first quarter. Okoroh added 8 points and 13 rebounds. Thomas Grün recorded a double-double (14 points, 10 rebounds) in the defeat.

In Group D, Bosnia and Herzegovina claimed their third successive win and handed Israel their first loss, final score 85-84.

Bosnia and Herzegovina trailed by 9 points in the fourth quarter, but a 12-4 surge capped by Bojan Lulic's lay-up tied the game at 79-79 with 1:28 left.

Lulic contributed a double-double with 21 points and 11 rebounds, and team-mate Nedim Buza also added 11 rebounds, 2 blocked shots and 14 points, including the go-ahead basket with 55 seconds remaining. Naor Sharon was the main man for Israel with 22 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists.

In the other game in Group D, Estonia came back from a first quarter deficit to beat Denmark 82-63. A second-quarter run of 12-0 brought Estonia back, and they surged clear in the second half to record their first victory of the competition.

Saimon Sutt top-scored for Estonia with 21 points and added 4 steals. Sten Olmre also contributed 16 points, 7 rebounds and 5 steals. Denmark received big games from Jonas Lund (23 points, 11 rebounds) and Rasmus Hansen (21 points, 9 rebounds), but turned the ball over too often as they slipped to defeat.

In the Group B top-of-the-table clash, Slovenia handed the Netherlands their first defeat and improved to 4-0 for the tournament with a thrilling comeback 59-58 win. Slovenia held the Dutch team scoreless in the final 4:09 of the game to close out on a 11-0 run, Matic Rebec's free throw with four seconds remaining sealing the win.

Slovenia had actually been leading 43-41 at the start of the fourth quarter, but a 15-2 run from the Netherlands turned the tables. Rebec high-scored with 22 points, and Jure Ritlop added 15 rebounds and 2 blocked shots. Stefan Topalovic led the Dutch team with 17 points.

Portugal joined Finland on a 2-2 record after beating the Finnish team 64-62 in other Group B action. The first half ended 27-27 and the teams remained locked at the end of three quarters, 44-44.

Finland made the first move in the final period, Oskar Michelsen's three-pointer putting the Finnish team 62-56 ahead.

But Portugal responded with an 8-0 run to close the game, capped by a three-pointer from Carlos Dias with 0:24 remaining. Finland fought desperately for offensive rebounds as time expired, but couldn't get the ball in and Portugal celebrated victory.

Joao Guimaraes led Portugal with 17 points, 8 rebounds and 5 steals. Michelsen led Finland with 17 points.

In the other Group B match, Cyprus recorded their first win of the competition, 69-56 against Austria. A 13-3 run in the second quarter put Cyprus clear, and Austria never got closer than 6 points after that.

Game high-scorer Antreas Christodoulou contributed 8 points in the run and ended up with 26 points overall, plus 7 rebounds and 7 steals. Sebastian Würtz got a double-double in defeat, 12 points and 11 rebounds.

The Slovak Republic fought desperately, but Sweden denied them their first victory of the competition with a 101-100 win in overtime. Ludvig Hakanson hit a jump-shot with 6 seconds left to win the game.

Hakanson had hit the crucial free-throws with four seconds remaining to put Sweden ahead 88-87 in the fourth quarter. But Vladimir Nemcok then drew a foul and went to the line. He hit the first, but missed the potential game-winner.

Sweden led 46-42 at half-time but a strong third quarter saw the Slovakian team take the lead. Both teams shot 46% in a fine display as four players registered more than 20 points.

Hakanson and team-mate Valter Lindström led Sweden with 27 points. Hakanson added 8 rebounds and 4 steals, and Dzenis Sogolj came off the bench to contribute 13 points and 9 rebounds. Matej Baluch top-scored for the Slovak Republic with 27 points, and Boris Belavy got 25 points. Nemcok added 19 points and 7 assists.

Hungary maintained their perfect record in Group C and handed Switzerland their first loss, final score 73-61. Hungary used a rebounding edge of 50-32 and tough first-half defense to secure the win.

Hungary led 36-24 at half-time but Switzerland pulled within 4 points on Arnaud Cotture's dunk with 4:20 remaining. But missed shots let Hungary pull away with a 8-0 run.

Tibor Bán top-scored for Hungary with 15 points, and Eric Vrana added 8 points and 11 rebounds. Cyril Bächler led Switzerland with 14 points.

Armenia improved to 2-2 and sent Ireland to their fourth consecutive Group C loss, final score 71-59. Ireland had led at half-time 30-26, and the score was tied at 42-42 at the start of the fourth quarter.

But 10 points in 5 minutes from top-scorer Andrey Konstantinov (18 points) pulled Armenia clear. Roman Sayadyan also contributed 9 points in the final quarter surge. Jason Carr top-scored for Ireland with 20 points.

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