Gerald Lee played the hero’s role for Finland as he converted a buzzer-beating layup that was a dagger in the hearts of Hungary and their hometown fans inside the arena.
Lee finished with 14 points on 6-for-10 shooting from the field and also added five rebounds, while Teemu Rannikko also had a share of the spotlight, finishing with a game-high 16 points, helping Finland have a great start in their bid to earn one of the two remaining spots in the upcoming EuroBasket.
“These two teams are very similar and tonight we had better luck,” said Finland coach Henrik Dettmann. “Funny game, it was like the stock market, vibrating all-way long.”
Kimmo Muurinen also had a productive night, scoring 12 points on 4-for-5 clip from the field, while Petteri Koponen added 10 points for Finland, who were in full control of the game in the third period.
Finland unleashed a 21-5 blast in the final six minutes of the third period to build a 12-point lead, 61-49, heading into the final period, but Hungary fought back and even led before Finland took control once again, handing Hungary their second-straight loss after dropping a 71-66 decision against Portugal on Tuesday.
“We had a hard game with ups and downs,” said Hungary coach Meszaros Lajos. “At the end we were unlucky. The audience was unbelievable. We have to win against Portugal at home and in Finland too.”
Finland will gun for a 2-0 record when they host Portugal on Monday, while Hungary will try to snatch their first win when they collide with Portugal again on Thursday.