Luck was on Russia's side as they managed to hold on and edge out Italy 55-54 at the U18 European Championship Men 2009 in Metz, France.
"I think we were lucky to escape like this," said guard Dmitry Kulagin after the final whistle.
"Italy did a great job of playing full court press in the late stages of the game and we had a very hard time trying to get the ball up the court."
Russia started the fourth quarter with a 48-37 lead thanks to the strong inside play - at both ends of the court - of their big men Ivan Lazarev, Pavel Antipov and Nikita Balashov.
However, Italy worked their way back into the game in the final frame thanks to Michele Vitali, Marco Maganza and Marco Contento.
Alessandro Ramagli's side closed within three, 53-50, on Contento's three-pointer with just over five minutes left and they kept coming until they were down by just one, 55-54, when Russia turned the ball over leading to a Riccardo Moraschini fastbreak dunk with 9.2 seconds left.
The Italians though were in the penalty and had to foul Balashov to stop the clock.
The Russian big man missed both free-throws and Italy pushed the ball upcourt finding Vitali on the wing who missed a three-pointer at the buzzer and Balashov made amends by blocking Luca Fontecchio's putback attempt which could have won the game.
"Those three guys (Lazarev, Antipov and Balashov ) did a great job defensively. They are not the strongest of players, but they are tall and long with those arms and know how to play smart," Kulagin added.
Italy got off to a quick start, going up 14-6 on Fabio Mian's three-pointer, but Russia's toughness inside got them to the free-throw line and they hit seven of eight attempts to end the quarter on a 7-0 run that edged them in front 16-15.
The teams traded the lead for the middle part of the second period before Russia took a 35-31 advantage into the half off of Alexander Burtsev's long-range bomb.
Russia stood tall inside on both ends of the court in the third quarter, pounding the ball into their big men to get some high percentage shots - with a high degree of success.
At the other end, Lazarev, Antipov and Balashov stood guard around the basket as Italy failed to get anything easy and at one point go without a single point for more than six minutes before eventually rediscovering some scoring potential in the final period to give the Russians a real scare.