Classification Round-Up: Spain, Russia To Battle For 5th

01 August 2009

Spain will face Russia in Sunday's 5th-6th place game at the U18 European Championship Men 2009 in Metz, France.

The Spaniards beat Italy 84-72 thanks to some balanced scoring which saw five players score in double-digits.

Joan Sastre had a game-high 19 points to go along with four rebounds and four assists and after he tied the game at 10 with 6:15 left in the first quarter, Spain never trail again as they took a 28-19 lead to end the period and were up comfortably, 49-33, at the break.

Dmitry Kulagin (Russia)
Dmitry Kulagin's free throws decided the game against Croatia
Italy were down by 10, 64-54, after Filippo Baldi Rossi hit a three-pointer in the closing seconds of the third quarter.

The Azzurri were within three, 67-64, when Marco Contento went on a personal 5-0 run early in the final period, but Alejandro Martinez's men regain their double-digit lead and assured themselves of finishing sixth or better on Sunday.

Josep Franch added 13 points and eight assists for Spain and Ignacio Llovet had a solid all-around performance with 12 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

Michele Vitali had 18 points for Italy and Andre De Nicolao added 15.

Meanwhile, Russia avoided seeing a double-digit lead go to waste when they survived Croatia's late comeback to prevail 76-74.

Dmitry Kulagin hit two free-throws with 13 seconds left to break a 74 tie as the Russians won, despite being outscored 19-7 in the final quarter.

The game was close in the first half, with neither team leading by more than five points. Croatia went up 23-18 to end the opening quarter as Toni Prostran played the playmaker role.

Russia took over in the second period, tying the game and edging in front 26-25 on Kulagin's free-throws with 7:31 left in the half.

Prostran buried a three a little later to restore Croatia's five point advantage, 36-31, but the Russians closed out on an 11-4 run to lead 42-40 at the break.

And Mikhael Solovyev's men would keep the momentum, taking their first double-digit lead midway through the third quarter and going up by as many as 15, 69-54, on Nikita Balashov's basket with just under a minute left in the period.

Dragan Sekelja and Matteo Juricic got Croatia back within three, 71-68, on the latter's three-pointer with 3:20 left to play and Prostran tied the game at 74 with a pair of free-throws just a second before Kulagin made the game-winning foul shots.

Juricic and Pasko Vrlika missed in the dying seconds as Russia escaped.

Pavel Shavkunov had 16 points for Russia and Kulagin added 14.

Prostran paced Croatia with game-highs of 21 points and 11 assists.

Elsewhere, Latvia beat Bulgaria 65-55 to finish ninth while Germany crushed Slovenia 97-75 in the battle for 11th place.

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