|Veni, vidi, vici - Bulgaria center Denislav Vutev came off the bench, scored 18 points in the first half and then sat back in the second|
By Jared Grellet
Bulgaria have stormed into the Second Round of the Samsung U18 European Championship at the expense of France, following their 69-58 victory over hosts Latvia on Saturday evening.
With Turkey beating France earlier in the day, Bulgaria entered the game knowing that nothing less than a win was required to see them advance to the final 12.
Recognizing the importance of the contest, Denislav Vutev came up big under the hoop for the eventual winners
The center joined the game from the bench to score 18 points in the opening half and put Bulgaria in front by 12 at half-time.
With the foundations set, Bulgaria continued to surge ahead in the second half, to lead by as much as 21 points.
In a similar scenario to their two previous games, Bulgaria once more struggled to close the game out, allowing Latvia to fight their way back into contention.
However, with their tournament on the line, the Bulgarians dug deep, restricting their opponents to just five points in the last three minutes to confirm the win.
Failing to score in the second stanza, Vutev finished with 18 points.
Nikolay Stoyanov chipped in with 13 whilst Aleksandar Vezenkov finished with 11 rebounds and nine points.
Ivars Zvigurs was the best of the Latvians with 11 points.
Bulgaria finished top of Group C and carry a 2-0 record into the Second Round.
Kris Minkov sets up Velislav Galabov after a pick-and-roll and the center finishes with a nice two-handed dunk.