Balkan beat Spartak Pleven 89-85 (24-21, 20-16, 19-23, 26-25) in a very tight game from start to finish, in which success could have been for Spartak. The two teams faced each other in an NBL Round 5 clash.
The guests started with 10-5 in the 4th minute, in the 7th the score was equal – 15-15, then Balkan took the lead and took the first part with 24-21. Three minutes after the start of the second period, the home team led by 8 points – 33-25, and this 8-point difference was the biggest in the game. However, after only two minutes, the scoreboard read 33-33, but by the end of the half, the Balkans took a 7-point lead – 44-37.
After the break, Balkan again led by 8 points, but the Pleven team immediately reduced their deficit and before the last half they trailed by 3 points – 63-60. The last quarter was extremely interesting and contested. Just two minutes after its start, Spartak turned the score in its favor at 63-64. Several leadership changes followed, in the 36th minute Balkan led by 5 points – 76-71.
Spartak again made a strong run and turned the score again – leading 79-78 with 2 minutes and 43 seconds remaining. Just after a minute, Balkan regained the lead – 80-79, with 1:19 left to lead by 3 – 82-79, and with a three-pointer 43.4 seconds to the end, pulled by 4 points – 85-81, and then 87-83 with 13.9 seconds remaining. Spartak cut to 87-85, but the hosts were accurate on the subsequent free throws and won 89-85.
Top scorer for the winners with 25 points was Karl-Johan Lipps, who also had the highest odds, was named man of the match and received a bottle of branded champagne from league sponsor Sesame. Malik Topin also played strongly, who scored 23 points and had 6 rebounds under both baskets. Captain Dimitr Dimitrov also played a very good game with his 15 points and 6 controlled rebounds. Mikey Dixon scored 9 points, Iliyan Pishchikov scored 8 points on his return to the game, Devin Harris scored 7 points and 11 assists, Martin Sotirov added 2 points.
For Spartak, five have a double-digit point asset. Nikolay Stoyanov scored the most with 22 points, Rodney Purvis scored 15, Andrew Gordon scored 13, captain Stanimir Marinov scored 12, Julien Lewis scored 11. The other two Americans in Spartak have 5 points respectively – Jonil Fudget and Bryant Thomas – 4. Tsvetomir Chernokozhev did not play for Spartak.
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