Aliaksandr Krutsikau’s athletes won the first game in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Qualifiers and defeated Slovenia with the score 93:92.

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A sensational success of the Belarusian team will undoubtedly enter men’s basketball history as one of its brightest moments. It is also pleasant that the victory over the European champions wasn’t obtained by chance. Literally a few days before Belarusians had the game with Spaniards, who managed to win only by a miracle. A specific feature of the Belarusian team during those two games was a great action for rebounding that became a key element of the victory.

The youngest member of the Belarusian team Maksim Salash brilliantly played that match. The power forward made double-double from 20 points and 10 rebounds. Devon Saddler became the most effective player of the Belarusian National Team, who scored 25 points, 8 assists and made 5 rebounds.

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The player of the Belarusian National Team Maksim Salash says: “First of all, I would like to express my gratitude to the fans for their amazing support. Thanks to you and your energy we obtained more power and won such a challenging game. After a hurtful failure with Spain this success is especially important for us. We took into account all our previous mistakes and I feel happy that today we have reached a positive result”.

The head coach of the Belarusian National Team Aliaksandr Krutsikau congratulated everyone on the win: “I think, today we made a historic victory for all Belarusian men’s basketball. I am sure that this is only the first step on our way to the next Qualifiers games. We still have a chance. In the third round we will have two away games with Montenegro and Spain. We have to win one of them. The rebounds have been our strongest part today and we have managed to collect 46 rebounds. Slovenians play super-fast and this style allows them to gain many points during the switch between attack and defense. I can’t say that we didn’t have enough time getting back to the defense, but we felt a lack of concentration for the neutralization of their open position shots. Speaking about our unsuccessful actions, I would like to mention 16 turnovers of the ball. It is unacceptable for the games of such level”.

Saša Zagorac, a basketball player of the Slovenian National Team expressed his congratulations to the Belarusian team: “I would like to congratulate the Belarusian team on the win. They played a good game. I think we were just not good enough today. We were not concentrated. We did not have this spirit that we had previously so I think they deserved to win. We need to look each other in the mirror and to get something out of this loss.”

Rado Trifunović, the head coach of the Slovenian National Team joined the congratulations: “My congratulations to the Belarusian team. They made more rebounds than we and this have become the key factor today. Obviously, it is impossible to hope on the success while you let your opponent to score more than 90 points per game. Today’s game is over and we have to think about the future games and start getting ready for them”.

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Group A team standings after four games:

1. Spain (4 wins)

2. Slovenia (2 wins, 2 losses)

3. Montenegro (1 wins, 3 losses)

4. Belarus (1 wins, 3 losses)

We remind you that the next two games of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Qualifiers the Belarusian team will play away. On 28 July the Belarusians will play with Montenegro and on 1 July with Spain.

Qualifiers system: the first Qualifiers round is carried out from November 2017 till July 2018 (3 round – November, February, June). 32 European national basketball teams, divided into 8 groups, take part in the Qualifiers (24 participating teams of the final stage of the EuroBasket 2017 and 8 teams that could pass the Pre-Qualifiers tournament of 2017). When all the participants play away and home games with each other within their group, 3 best national teams of the group will enter the second Qualifiers round (September and November 2018, February 2019).

SECTION Federation