Bo McCalebb’s driving lay-up with two seconds remaining secured a 65-63 win over Georgia in the first game of Group F in Vilnius
McCalebb admitted afterwards that the final play was drawn up for him: “The play was drawn up for me; I was feeling it and had the confidence in myself to finish it”.
Bo finished with 27 points.
Georgia’s coach, Igor Kokoskov took full responsibility for his side’s defensive assignment failure in the lead-up to McCalebb’s bucket. Saying that he was soft to stay with the same line-up and not make changes.
In a drab first period, where both teams struggled to find any kind of rhythm, despite the first-play combination of George Tsintsadze and Viktor Sanikidze, which finished with the latter hammering it home, neither team really got going.
McCalebb stepped up to the plate early with his blistering quickness and knack to get to the basket, as his five points gave FYR of Macedonia a narrow one-point lead after the opening ten minutes (13-12).
The game remained close in the second, but lacked passion and excitement, as both teams never really broke free.
FYR of Macedonia tried to get a little breathing space, taking a 25-17 lead thanks to Pero Antic foul-shots but the Georgians responded in kind, going on an 8-2 spurt to cut the gap to two (27-25).
After the half-time interval, the game had threatened to be a blow-out, with the Macedonians pulling away in the third, as a Predrag Samardziski jumper gave his side a comfortable 51-38 cushion with a minute of the third.
Georgia though came back to set up a thrilling finish, taking the fourth quarter 19-11, but just missing out on a great comeback victory thanks to McCalebb’s heroics in the final two seconds.
“We’re not getting ahead of ourselves,” said Samardziski. “It’s just taking it game by game.”