EuroBasket 2015: Bulgaria and Estonia reach finals

The finals of the first EuroBasket 2015 Qualifier are now set after the semifinal matches played on Saturday. In Estonia, the hosts overcame a six-point deficit from the first game in Belarus with an 18-point win, 79:61, to move on to the finals. In Switzerland, the host club couldn’t find a way to stop the Bulgarians and lost a second contest by 20+ points, 87:67. The first championship game between Estonia and Bulgaria will be played on Thursday, 28 August, at a yet to be determined location.

Estonia – Belarus, 79:61
Estonia got a massive 20P/10R double-double performance from forward Kristjan Kangur, on their way to a 79:61 defeat of Belarus to earn a spot in the EuroBasket 2015 Qualifier title game against Bulgaria. In the front leg of the two-game series, Belarus put up six, 76:70, on Estonia in a game that saw Kangur tally 3 points and 6 rebounds.

For the first three quarters the contest was relatively close. In the first frame the host club built a nine-point lead, only to have Belarus counter the early lead to pull to within two, 19:17. In the second frame Estonia was able to get up by as many as eight, but settled with a six-point advantage at the break, 37:31.

Early on in the third the Estonians extended their biggest gap of the contest to 14, but it was short-lived as Belarus knocked off five unanswered to cut the lead to nine. A Gregor Arbet jumper at the buzzer for Estonia gae them a 10-point margin, 55:45, with just a quarter to play.

Estonia opened the final frame with an 8:2 run to get up by 15, 63:48. From there out the lead fluctuated between 11 and 16 points with the Estonians punching their ticket to the finals and a shot at the 2015 EuroBasket competition.

Kangur was high-man for Estonia with his 20P/10R double-double, while Aliaksandr Kudrautsau was game-high for Belarus with 22 points.

EuroBasket 2015
Switzerland’s Clint Capela goes up for a dunk in the semifinals against Bulgaria.

Bulgaria – Switzerland, 87:67
Bulgaria pulled off a big road win over Switzerland, 87:67, to schedule an advancement to the finals against Estonia.

The Bulgarians took care of business early in the contest, building a 14-point lead by the half.

To open the third from, the Swiss put together a 10:0 run to pull to within four, 45:41. With just under four minutes to play the Swiss had stayed within four, 50:46, but that would be the last points they would get as the Bulgarians would close out the quarter with a 10:0 run of their own to get back up by 14, 60:46.

Clint Capela played strong on the paint for the Swiss, helping his club to get back to within 11, only to have the well run dry and see the lead progressively expand for the rest of the quarter to a peak of 22 with 39 seconds to play. A Capela lay-up at the buzzer dropped through the cords to settle the Bulgarian advantage in at 20, 87:67.

Capela was game-high with 19 points and 6 rebounds for Switzerland. While Kaloyan Ivanov scored 17 to lead Bulgaria.

The finals will be help on Thursday, 28 August.

The big advantage we had was the experience, it helps us a lot. The Swiss team is a team for the future. This game was really important for us and we took it very seriously even though we were 21 points in front.

— Bulgaria head coach Konstantin Papazov

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