|Lovro Mazalin seemed to be everywhere for Croatia and it showed in his numbers: 17 points, 14 rebounds, 7 assists for the forward|
Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk's heroics were not enough for Ukraine as Croatia improved to 2-0 in Group D of the U16 European Championship Men with a 79-67 victory.
Mykhailiuk, who inspired the tournament hosts to an opening night rout of Latvia, poured in 33 points but Ukraine trailed almost all night to this impressive Croatia team, cheered on by Croatia and Dynamo Kyiv footballer Niko Kranjcar.
Mykhailiuk opened the game with a three-pointer but it was not long before Croatia began to make their superior size count - just as they did in their opening defeat of Italy.
When Ivica Zubac waltzed through for a lay-up, the score had bulged to 19-9 less than six minutes into the contest.
Mykhailiuk turned to three-pointers in a bid to claw it back and enjoyed some success, making it 25-24 to Croatia with a long ball 35 seconds from the end of the first quarter.
But hard as they tried, Ukraine could not get their noses in front. Croatia started the second quarter strongly as well, quickly pulling away as Dragan Bender's emphatic dunk made it 32-24.
Ivan Tkachenko's dunk brought the crowd to its feet as he cut the gap to 35-34 with 2:15 left in the first half but Ukraine trailed by 41-38 at the break.
After Croatia eased ahead again the third, Ukraine used three quick threes, one from Vitaliy Zotov and two in succession from Kyrylo Marchenko to tie it 47-47 before Mykhailiuk gave them the lead for only the second time in the game.
Croatia ensured it was short-lived, however, and began the fourth quarter leading 61-55.
Ukraine were once more in touching distance when Mykhailiuk's jump-shot made it 64-61 with 6:24 to go, but misses proved costly as Croatia pulled clear again, going up 68-61 on Nik Slavica's dunk.
Ukraine called time-out but when they turned the ball over again, coach Vitalii Usenko threw away his tactics board in disgust, and his mood did not improve when Mykhailiuk missed a lay-up moments later.
When Slavica nailed a three the deficit was 73-65 with barely two minutes remaining and Ante Zizic stretched it further from the line.
They even brought out the party pieces in the final minute, Bender throwing down Bruno Skokna's alley-oop pass with Ukraine's challenge over.
Slavica led Croatia with 26 points while Lovro Mazalin had 17 with 14 rebounds. Bender scored 13 with 11 boards while Zizic had 11 points.
Marchenko joined Mykhailiuk in double figures for Ukraine, scoring 13 points.