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Rilski Sportist impress with a 5th victory

Rilski Sportist impress with a 5th victory
Travis Peterson - 31 points and 11 boards tonight
20-01-2009 | 21:43 |
Rilski Sportist continues to be the best performer out of the 3 Bulgarian teams in the Eurohold Balkan League. In the opening BIBL game of the year tonight the team from Samokov only needed about 15 minutes of serious action to dispose of Romanian rival Dinamo Bucharest - 91-75. The Bulgarians now with a record of 5-1 are assured of qualifying for the quarters, and have the best shot at finishing top of Group B. The loss keeps Dinamo bottom of the group standings at 1-5 and even victories in their last two games might prove not quite enough for them to clinch the 4th place and thus the quarterfinal slot. The 88-79 result in Bucharest back in November last year remains Rilski Sportist`s only loss and and Dinamo `s only win so far in the Eurohold BIBL.
 
Rilski Sportist played better from the bery beginning of tonight`s game in front of their home crowd. Dinamo coach Valentin Pogonaru was forced to use a time-out as early as the 4th minute, as his team was already trailing 9-2. But that didn`t disturb the flow of the home team`s game, as Rilski Sportist`s players were having a field day in offence and shutting down the Romanians in defence. They soon had a double digit lead at 16-6 and an advantage of 13 points after one quarter of play - 25-12.
 
The hosts continued into the second 10-minute period from where they had left off in the first. Travis Peterson was on fire, and so was Dragoslav Papic, who yet again came off the bench. The biggest margin in favour of Rilski Sportist was in the middle of the second quarter - 44-16, after Travis Peterson completed 2 three-point plays in consecutive possessions. The second one was off a behind-the-back pass by point guard Branko Mirkovic - just one of a few trick plays the home team treated their fans to.
 
Then Rilski Sportist`s level of play dropped one notch, while the visitors from Bucharest decided it was high time they spared themselves at least some of the blushes. The difference dropped down under 20, after Dinamo players managed to sink 3 shots from downtown and another 4 points in a matter of 2 minutes for a 4-13 run and a 48-29 score. But soon another behind-the-back pass by Mirkovic allowed Leven Belberov to score the closing basket of the first half - 53-35.
 
The game had much less to offer after the break, as both teams didn`t perform at their best - Rilski Sportist decided to save some energy and do just enough to hold on to a lead of around 20 points, while Dinamo apparently no longer believed they could win the game. And it was obvious they couldn`t, as during that second half too American guard Chris Reaves was the biggest threat for the home team`s basket, but not enough to turn the whole game around on his own. In the meantime Rilski Sportist center Peterson was scoring at will, including 3 treys after half-time. The third quarter finished at 73-54 , while the fourth was the only one won by the visitors (18-21), which only served to make their final margin of defeat a bit more respectable at 91-75. Even some youngsters of the Rilski Sportist junior team joined the party, as Stanislav Vaklinov (who was actually given another start tonight and played 14 minutes) delighted his home crowd with a dynamic slam dunk in the closing minute.
 
Travis Peterson had another imressive game with a total 31 points, shooting 12/16 from the floor and an amazing 4/4 from 3-point range. The American center also grabbed 11 rebounds for his double double. Dragoslav Papic contributed 18 points and 8 boards off the bench. Branko Mirkovic had a great all-around performance with 11 points, 8 assists, 4 boards and 4 steals. Ivan Lilov added 12 points, while substitute Aleksandar Gruev dished out 7 assists.
 
For Dinamo Chris Reaves was the top scorer with 28 pts, the other guard Mihail Paul added 18, while almost no one else of the visiting team will be remembered for his performance. One exception might have been forward Stojadin Markovic, who was close to a double double with 9 pts and 9 rbs.

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