Russia gained a measure of revenge over Group A rivals Croatia in tonight’s game in the basketball hotbed of Perm.
Croatia had taken advantage of the absence of Andrei Kirilenko in their first meeting on 8th September in Zadar, easily disposing of the Russians, 83-63.
Russia’s NBA star was back in action for the return leg and he played a key role in Russia’s 75-65 win.
It was all Russia from the tip-off and they raced away to a 9-0 lead. It was only some good play from youngsters Roko Ukic and Damir Rancic that prevented an early rout and the quarter finished 22-14 in Russia’s favour.
Russia maintained a comfortable lead throughout the remainder of the game. With the result seemingly clear, the only question remaining was the margin of victory. Russia needed to win by 24 points to take over first position in the group.
The Russians managed to increase the lead to as many as 18 points in the final period. Although the game was decided, the Croatian players were still nervous and coach Neven Spahija picked up a technical foul.
Ultimately it was foul trouble that stopped Russia from reaching their goal. Kirilenko, Dimitri Domani and Vassili Karrasev all fouled out and Croatia were able to get to within 10 points, 75-65, and maintain the top spot in the group.