History took place today at Siemens Arena in Vilnius, Lithuania as the U18 team of Russia qualified for the first time ever to the semi-finals following a 73-68 overtime win over France on Friday afternoon.
The Russian team celebrated in mid court the great achievement and already started to think about their semi-finals match up against the winner between Latvia and Croatia.
|Dmitry Kulagin had another great game as he led Russia back to tie the game and succeed in overtime|
France came close to write a great upset, but missed a big chance to make the final four.
Vladislav Trushkin led Russia with 22 points and was also the top rebounder with 9, Dmitry Kulagin finished with 15, Alexander Varnakov had a great game with 13 points, 11 assists and 6 steals while Gleb Goldyrev added 10 big ones.
Hugo Invernizzi was the top scorer of his side with 20 behind 5 three pointers, Mathis Keita contributed 12 with 6 assists and Rudy Gobert had 8 points, 16 rebounds and 4 blocks.
For a bit over 3 quarters it seemed like the same old story, with a favorite Russian team that can't find the mental toughness to stay focussed and win a crucial game as happened so many times in the past, but a great step up by Trushkin, Kulagin and down the stretch also Goldyrev made a huge difference.
Russia spread their gun powder between 4 players already in the first quarter, but didn't find the way to take off and after 10 minutes the scored was tied at 12-12.
Yannis Morin with a big dunk and the bonus from the line gave France the lead, and Gobert tipped in his first points to make it 16-21 after 14 minutes, but Trushkin with 5 points cut it back down to only 2.
The last word of the half was spoken by Invernizzi that set a 26-30 French lead after 20 minutes of basketball.
Sergey Karasev found his spot on the floor, but Keita dunked in fast break, and Invernizzi scored from the arc again to make it 34-40 in favor his team while Russia seemed unfocused.
After an unsportsmanlike foul early in the 4th quarter in favor of France it seemed like another done deal for Russia but all of a sudden a big change came.
Trushkin ignited the run with a three pointer, Kulagin added another and Trushkin hit again, before yet again Kulagin copied to make it 51-51 inside the last 5 minutes of the game.
The duo added 3 more points to complete a 9-2 and give Russia a 54-51 run but Invernizzi was still on fire and tied the score from the perimeter.
Out of nowhere came Goldyrev with 5 points in a row that kept Russia's momentum going, but Thomas Ceci cut it back to just one point before Trushkin missed and allowed France a chance to win.
Keita went to the line and made the first to tie the score, but missed the second, yet the one on the rebound was Gobert, that was right away fouled and and went to shoot twice with 16 seconds to play.
Standing in a great position to take the game in their hands the French bench saw the big guy miss twice from the line and after Goldyrev lost the ball the game went into overtime.
The break didn't stop Russia who scored the first 8 points of the overtime, while France went scoreless for 4 minutes.
Before it was too late the underdog made one last effort to and Invernizzi scored from the three point line to make it a 70-66 game with 38 second still to make things happen.
Goldyrev stepped up with another bucket and Keita added just a point from the line to finally decide the game and carry Russia for the first time ever to a medal game.