Croatia are off the mark in their EuroBasket Women qualifying campaign after securing a 61-55 win over Slovak Republic on Saturday.
Having suffered setbacks at the hands of France and Romania, it was third time lucky for Croatia as they held off a late fightback from the visitors.
The hosts had led by as many as 14 points early in the second half, but the Slovak Republic kept chipping away, and Andrea Oravcova's three-pointer with 5:11 left made it 51-47.
Croatia continued to hold the visitors at arms length but things were getting too close for comfort when Romana Vynuchalova made a lay-up with 2:53 left to make it 54-53.
Jelena Izevic added two insurance points with 1:45 to go, and Andja Jelavic made a lay-up with 51 seconds to go to give Croatia a 58-53 bulge.
Vynuchalova's lay-up closed the gap once more but Jelavic split a pair of free throws to make it 59-55.
Zuzana Zirkova missed a three-pointer for Slovak Republic and Jelavic made two from the charity stripe to ice the win.
Marta Cakic led Croatia with 18 points and eight rebounds while Jelavic added 14 points.
Lucia Kupcikova had 13 points and Vynuchalova 11 for Slovak Republic.
Nenad Amanovic, Croatia head coach:
"The first 30 minutes we played excellent, we were focused and most important we played great defense. But we shot poorly, which is not typical for us. I guess in the last seven minutes we were just waiting for the game to finish, but that's something you just can't do. We allowed Slovakia to come back and they were down by only one point with three minutes left in the game."
"However in the end we still managed to win and obviously I'm pleased about this. It was a very important win for us, now we are back in the race for the second place. Now we have to win at least one of the next two games in Hungry and France to keep our chances for the second place alive. It will be difficult games but with our good defense we have a chance."
Marta Cakic, Croatia guard:
"It was a similar game like against France, it looks as if we were paying the price for our lack of experience. Even though we shot so badly, we controlled the game because of our great defense. However I have to admit that they didn't shoot well either. In the end they hit some shots but they could not go for the entire game without making any shots. We lost our focus a little bit, they came within one point, but Andja Jelavic took over again and helped us to secure the win."
On shooting 4 of 10 from three point range...
"I did hit four three pointers but I can't say I am too happy with the way I was shooting the ball. But the coach kept telling me to believe and I hit a few."
Pokey Chatman, Slovak Republic head coach:
On the first 33 minutes of the game...
"We failed to execute offensively. I'm the first to give credit to the opponent, I don't want to take anything away from Croatia, but a lot of that had to do with the way we played in offense. And then your are down by 19 points and all of a sudden you start doing the things you could have done the entire game. And that's what is so disappointing."
"It is a 40 minute game. Obviously, the first three minutes are as important as the last three. It is something we have to improve."
On playing better at home....
"That's in the nature of sports. We have to find our comfort on the road. I keep telling my team that the basket is 10 feet high and the court is 94 by 50. Those things remain the same."
On the chances to qualify ...
"I'm always an optimistic person and I am always thinking there is an opportunity to make it but I am also a realist. There are certain things we have to change. There are no teams we can play for 10, 20, or 30 minutes. We need to play 40 minutes. We will watch the video and we will work on our game."
Lucia Kupickova, Slovak Republic forward:
"We stared very badly, we didn't make any shots. In the second half we played better defense. We went step by step and got closer. But in the end we were just not lucky. All we needed was a little more luck."