Mikhail Kulagin paced Russia with a double-double in points and rebounds
By Jared Grellet
Russia have completed day one action in Liepaja with a 70-59 win over Slovenia at the Samsung U18 European Championship.
Following a tense opening half in which Russia came out of leading by three, Aleksandr Chernov's team started the second stanza strongly, going on a 9-2 run to develop a healthy lead that they would defend for the remainder of the game.
Hitting just two three-pointers all night, Russia were prominent under the boards, outscoring Slovenia inside the paint 44-22 whilst also out-rebounding them 40-24.
As predicted, Mikhail Kulagin was the key to Russia's victory, ending the game a with an 18-point, 10-rebound double-double.
The other key contribution came from Stanislav Ilnitskiy with 10 points and six rebounds.
Gregor Hrovat and Matic Rebec shared top-scoring honours for Slovenia with 16 apiece.
On Friday in Liepaja, Russia are second up on court when they take on Poland, whilst Slovenia bring an end to the evening against an impressive-looking Croatian outfit.