|Zaza Pachulia had 15 points to help Georgia clinch their spot at next year's EuroBasket |
Georgia secured their place at EuroBasket 2013 as they held on in a dramatic finish to beat Group D rivals Latvia 73-70 on the road.
Janis Strenieks and Rihards Kuksiks both missed late three-point attempts as Georgia clung on for victory in the face of a late Latvia rally.
With both teams playing for the win that would send them through automatically, it was a hard-fought game in Riga.
Georgia had used a huge second quarter, in which they outscored Latvia 24-11, to take control of the game.
But Latvia would not go away, closing to within 46-45 when Martins Meiers split his free throws late in the third quarter, and then snatching their first lead of the second half, 55-53, when Kuksiks sank a three-pointer with 7:16 left in the game.
Georgia responded with nine straight points, pulling 62-55 in front on George Tsintsadze's lay-up.
The lead was 70-63 after Manuchar Markoishvili made a pair of free throws with 1:32 to go but Latvia came back again.
Strelnieks hit back-to-back jump shots and Edgars Jeromanovs made it a two-point game with 24 seconds left when he split his free throws.
Viktor Sanikidze went to the line for Georgia but missed his second shot to leave the door open.
When Strelnieks hit a pair from the stripe with 11 ticks left, the score was 71-70.
Zaza Pachulia's fast-break dunk padded Georgia's lead, but they needed the late misses from Strelnieks and Kuksiks to hang on.
Markioshvili had 17 points for Georgia with Pachulia and Jacob Pullen adding 15 each, Tsintsadze 14.
Arturs Berzins and Davis Bertans had 15 apiece for Latvia, with Meiers collecting 14 and Strelnieks 11.
While Georgia go through, Latvia now face Romania on Tuesday knowing they will need to qualify as one of the best third-placed teams.