Croatia booked their ticket for Turkey and the World Championship 2010 as they beat Russia in a tight game with 76-69 behind a great performance by Roko-Leni Ukic.
The first quarter was pretty much balanced point-wise as Croatia stroke mostly from the paint and Russia from long range behind 3 three-pointers by Sergey Monya. Croatia stayed ahead by 4 (18-14).
IN the second quarter the Russians tightened their defense, keeping Croatia to just one basket in over six minutes, while being very successful on the offensive end as well, winning the quarter 27-15 and going into halftime with an 8-point lead ( 41-33).
Croatia used an 18-2 run to achieve a full recovery from the second quarter debacle, to get a 6-point lead themselves (53-47). Of course Russia did not give up and got the lead again after back-to-back baskets of Fridzon and McCarty, yet it was Croatia with the final word of the quarter as Planinic hit a late three-pointer for a 2-point lead.
With four minutes to time the game was tied at 65-65 and just over one minute to play Croatia had a small lead (70-67) when Roko-Leni Ukic hit another three-pointer to put the Croatians up by six, effectively giving them the win.
CROATIA 76-69 RUSSIA
Russia: Vorontsevich 8, Kurbanov, Bykov 8, Fridzon 3, McCarty 9, Sokolov, Dmitriev, Vyaltsev, Monya 18, Ponktashov 6, Zozulin 8, Mozgov 9
Croatia: Ukic 18, Kus 5, Popovic 8, Vujcic 2, Prkacin, Rozic 14, Planinic 5, Stojic, Loncar 6, Banic, Nicevic 6, Kasun 12
J. Repesa (Croatia coach): "It was a very difficult game for us after losing yesterday, especially how we lost. We came here wanting to do something more than what we have done. Our minimum goal was to qualify for Turkey and also to have some continuity with the team. I am really proud of the guys that they recovered the energy – mentally and physically,"
L. Loncar: "It was a very hard game for us after the loss last night. We didn't sleep well last night. We didn't start very well and then we woke up and realized that it was about the World Championship. Russia team is tough, but in the end we played hard and won."
D. Blatt (Russia coach): "That was a hard game, a hard fought game. They were more experienced and made better plays at the end of the game. And that's understandable given the age and experience of their players. We missed our opportunities that we should have converted. The game could have gone either way. Just like the first one. This one just went to them."