|In a low-scoring game, every single one of forward Stanislav Ilnitskiy's 15 points was pure gold for Russia|
By Jared Grellet
Russia prevailed over Bulgaria, without the help of playmaker Mikhail Kulagin, in a low-scoring 56-53 win on Day Two of the Second Round at the Samsung U18 European Championship.
News out of the Russian camp was that Kulagin had picked up an injury in his team's loss to tournament co-hosts Latvia a day earlier.
In the guard's absence, Russia struggled to find their direction around the court early and Bulgaria pounced, running out to an 11-point lead.
But in what has become an infamous nightly trait of the Bulgarians, they once more collapsed, allowing Russia to come back into the game and be trailing by a point at half-time.
The teams swapped the lead regularly in the second half but in the end it was Russia's ability to capitalise on points from turnovers that got them home, grabbing 15 compared to Russia's nine.
Stanislav Ilnitskiy finished with 15 points for Russia. Oleg Alferov made the most of the absence of Kulagin, scoring 12 points in 11-and-a-half minutes whilst Viktor Kashin and Igor Kanygin both finished with 11.
Kris Minkov was the only Bulgarian to break into double figures, recording 16 points.
Bulgaria have the unenviable task of playing Croatia on Wednesday whilst Russia will look to move into the Quarter-Finals with a win behind them when they take on Turkey.