ImageIn an amazing ball game, not so much for its quality but more for its intensity and energy Russia upset Croatia and recorded their second win of the tournament, which will probably be enough to take them to the quarter finals of the tournament.

Russia started off the game better as Vujcic really struggled with Mozgov. Croatia's coach Repesa diagnosed the problem and threw Kasun in and Croatia managed to tie the game at 14-14. With Mozgov offering 7 points and 5 for his team it was a huge blow for Russia when he was slightly injured and replaced at the end of the first quarter. Score of first quarter: 16-16.

At the start of the second quarter the lead changed hands many times, 8th time after the threepointer by Ponkrashov which made the score 19-17 to Russia. Croatia was behind 25-23 although they had eight more shots than Russia. With Bykov and Mozgov, who had resumed the game in the meanwhile, playing the pick and roll perfectly Russia increased their lead 27-23 and took it to its maximum  difference with another free throw by Mozgov immediately after, 28-23. It was Planinic who scored at last for Croatia, after four minutes, to make the final half time score 28-26, although he had the chance to tie the game but missed the drive.

At the beginning of the third quarter Russia held a steady 4-5 points lead, mainly due to Croatia missing free shots. McCarty scored his first field goal of the day to make it 34-30 to Russia. In the meantime Banic was fighting all alone for Croatia getting some calls from the refs. Monya blocked Planinic in two consecutive shots to give Zozulin the opportunity for an amazing and one play (missed the free throw) which took the score to 38-34. A great Ponkrashov-Mozgov alley hoop play made it 40-34 while Kasun was doing everything in his power to keep Croatia in the game. At this point Ukic stepped up and with 4 points cut Russia's lead to two points, 42-40, before Kasun tying the game at 42-42 at the end of the quarter.

Both teams were very nervous at the beginning of the last quarter and Ukic gave the lead back to Croatia, also gaining Mozgov's third foul. McCarty stepped up and with the help of Mozgov put Russia back in the lead 49-46. At that point Mozgov unintentionally elbowed Kasun and knocked him out from the rest of the game. With Kurbanov fouled out Croatia tried to put pressure on Russia and tied the game 53-53 with less than 2 minutes to go.

At that point both teams started intentional fouling to send their opponents to the charity line, where Russia was better than Croatia, and took the lead 60-56. Popovic hit an amazing threepointer to make it 60-59 with 3 seconds to go but it was too little too late. The final score was 62-59 for Russia.


Russia: Vorontsevich, Kurbanov 8, Bykov 9 (7 assists), Fridzon 9, McCarty 9, Sokolov 1, Monya 2, Ponkrashov 4, Zozulin 2,  Mozgov 18 (8 rebounds) 
Croatia: Ukic 6, Kus , Popovic 6, Vujcic 3 (1/10 FG), Rozic 2, Planinic 12, Prkacin, Stojic 3, Banic 11 (7 rebounds), Nicevic 3, Kasun 13

Game quotes:

David Blatt (Russia coach): "Obviously this was a defensive game and we were just a little better defending the post than they were. They are a better team than we are but we were a little bit better today. We're having trouble throwing the ball in the ocean now. So, we're trying to pass inside a little bit more. We figure the closer we get to the basket the better."

Sergey Monya: "We played tough today and wanted to win this game very much, because we knew that if we lose today then our chances to make it to the next round are very small. Everybody played great defense. It was very important for us to show that we can beat a team like Croatia," said Sergey Monya."

Nikola Vujcic: "We missed some easy lay-ups and made turnovers we shouldn't have, and it made it very difficult to cover for that."

Jasmin Repesa (Croatia coach):
"Russia played good defense, very tough and every play was difficult to execute. We spent a lot of energy on defense, because Russia is a very strong and athletic team, and maybe that hurt us on the other side of the court.I f you score 59 points it's very difficult to win against any opponent."