Tsmoki-Minsk Belarus defeated Zielona Gora Poland on the road, 80-78 (16-26, 22-14, 21-17, 21-21).
Zielona Gora: Quinton Hosley (19), Zeljko Sakic (17 + 16 reb), Przemyslav Zamojski (16 + 4 stl), Markel Starks (12)
Tsmoki-Minsk: Devon Saddler (23 + 5 reb), Vladimir Mihailovic (14), Aliaksei Trastsinetski (13 + 6 reb), Aliaksandr Kudrautsau (10)
Tsmoki-Minsk overcame a slow start to claw back against Zielona Gora and escape Poland with only its second road win of the season.
Zielona Gora was looking to take control of 12th place with a victory and went up by 14 early in the 2nd quarter.
Still down 12, 38-26, with three minutes to go in the first half, the Belarusians entered the locker room on a 12-2 run, highlighted by back-to-back Aliaksandr Kudrautsau 3-pointers.
With Zielona Gora leading 40-38 at halftime, the second half proved insanely competitive. Neither team led by more than five points, though the momentum gradually shifted toward Tsmoki-Minsk.
Down five early in the 3rd quarter, the visitors took a five-point lead midway through the 4th quarter, 68-63, on a layup from leading scorer Devon Saddler.
Zielona Gora fought back to tie the game at 74-apiece with 1:30 remaining. Saddler, however, scored on back-to-back possessions, giving Minsk a four-point advantage with 15 seconds on the clock.
After trading free throws, Zielona Gora sent Saddler to the line with five seconds to go, his team up by two, 80-78. The American guard missed both shots and the Poles had a chance to tie or win the game, but Zeljko Sakic’s frantic layup was short and Tsmoki held on to win.
The victory means that Minsk can still finish in a tie for 12th place with a win over Nizhny Novgorod and Zielona Gora and PARMA losses. The Poles, meanwhile, could still take 12th outright with a win vs. UNICS and some help from PARMA.
Zielona Gora head coach Igor Jovovic: “We could have and should have won, but we didn’t deserve this win. In the first half, we were decent on defense, but after halftime we gave the ball away a lot. We also missed a lot of open shots, while our opponent hit 11 3-pointers.”
Tsmoki-Minsk head coach Rostislav Vergun: “It was pretty exciting game. We were fortunate at the end, but that luck was the result of all the hard work our players have put in. I’m very happy that we are playing well at the end of the season.”