In front of a crowd estimated at over 6,000 in Sarajevo, Georgia fought off a strong comeback by the squad from Bosnia and Herzegovina to earn a victory 96-95 and improve their EuroBasket Qualification Round record in Group D to 2-0. BIH drops to 2-1 with the loss.
Georgia caught the hosts off-guard early, running out to a 28-9 advantage after the first quarter on a series of BIH turnovers and missed shots, while dropping in layups on steals and hitting three, three-pointers during the frame.
The Bosnians found their game in the second quarter and began chipping away at the lead. With 5:33 left in the half they had cut the margin to 10 points at 36-26 behind two threes by Dalibor Persic and with big men Mirza Teletovic and Nedzad Sinanovic taking control of the paint. Back-to-back three-pointers by Jacob Pullen stopped the rally helped Georgia go on a 10-2 run to push the advantage back up to 18 points. The hosts outscored Georgia 29-26 in the quarter, but were still down 54-38 at the half.
The two squads traded baskets in the early part of the third quarter, but Bosnia was able to cut the lead to three with 22 seconds to play in the quarter with a 18-4 run with four threes from four different players and the Georgia squad not being able to find the bottom of the basket. Tornike Shengelia hit a jumper with five clicks on the clock to give the Georgian contingent a five-point margin going into the final stanza.
Manuchar Markoishvili extended the Georgia lead to nine with two jump shots, prompting BIH to call a timeout to regroup. Coming out of the break the hosts knocked down eight unanswered points to get within one with 5:46 to play. Zaza Pachulia scored on a lay-up for Georgia, Sinanovic equaled that for the hosts with a dunk, Pachulia scored on another lay-up, and Dedovic added two to bring the score back to one-point, 85-84 in Georgia’s favor. Markoishvilli dropped in a jumper and Pullen scored on a lay-up off a Teletovic turnover to extend the lead to five with 3:01 to play. Teletovic made up for the earlier turnover dropping in a three to bring Bosnia back to within two. Pachulia’s dunk extended the difference back to four. Bosnia’s next two points didn’t come easy as they had to recover from a missed jump shot, two offensive rebounds that turned into two missed lay-ups, only to get the points off a defensive rebound that set up a lay-up for Dedovic with 1:42 to play. Pullen hit a three-pointer nine seconds later for Georgia, which was follow-up by three for BIH by Masic with 1:11 left to play and a two-point difference. Sanikidze found a lane and dropped in a lay-up with 37 seconds left for Georgia, but Teletovic brought the hosts to within one with 26 seconds on the clock. Bosnia got their opportunity for the win when Sanikidze turned the ball over with six seconds left, but Dedovic lost that ball back to Sanikidze as time ran out.
Pulled paced the Georgia win with 20 points, Sanikidze added 19 points and 11 rebounds, Markoishvilli dropped in 17 points, and Pachulia contributed 16 to the victory. Teletovic led all scorers with 27 points, Dedovic added 20 points and Masic scored 16.
Bosnia and Herzegovina will next play a Romania and Georgia will take on Latvia.