|Michal Batka paved the way for Slovakia with 27 points|
The Slovak Republic finished strong on Wednesday to prevail 97-85 over Belarus at home and claim their first victory in Group D of the EuroBasket 2015 1st Qualification Round.
Now all three teams in the group, Slovakia, Belarus and Hungary, are tied at 1-1, which leaves the race for first place in the group and a spot in the semi-finals wide open.
The Slovaks imposed their tempo early on and grabbed a 24-14 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Belarus however, who shot the ball better than their hosts (60.5 percent from two-point range, compared to Slovakia's 51%) balanced the encounter and reduced the gap to 45-43 at the interval, before tying the scores at 61 midway through the third frame.
The two teams entered the final stanza almost level, until a Michal Batka lay-up in transition with 7:21 left on the clock sparked a 10-2 run that gave the hosts some much needed breathing space, 77-68.
Slovakia managed to hold on to that precious lead and clinch the win as they capitalised effectively on the Belarusians' inability to protect the ball.
The hosts finished with 10 steals and forced Belarus to commit 19 turnovers, which invariably led to easy scores for the Slovaks.
Batka led the winners with 27 points and six rebounds, Richard Körner and Milan Ziak scored 16 points each and combined for nine assists, while forward Peter Dorazil collected a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Winger Vitali Liutych could not have done much more for Belarus as he finished with a game-high 33 points on 9-for-11 shooting from the floor, and Artsiom Parakhouski also delivered a powerful display in defeat, registering a double-double of 22 points and 13 rebounds.