|Stanislav Ilnitskiy nailed the game winner for Russia|
Stanislav Ilnitskiy hit a jumper with just over a second remaining to gift Russia a 66-65 victory over France in the opening game for both teams in Group D of the U20 European Championship.
Turning Point: Antony Labanca returned to the floor for France with nine seconds left to play and four seconds later clinically nailed a triple that brought his team ahead, 65-64. Rather than accepting defeat, Russian forward Ilnitskiy calmly collected the in-bound pass and, showing enormous composure, sunk the game-winner, leaving virtually no time to the shell-shocked French to react.
Game Hero: Ilnitskiy was only 3-of-8 from the floor until the last second, when he sentenced the game. He finished with 11 points, also adding two rebounds and two assists.
Stats Don't Lie: Russia collected only five offensive rebounds so they had to be economical with their shot selection. They were effective in finding the open man, dishing out 16 assists and hitting 24 of their 47 two-point attempts, a 62.5% conversion rate compared to France's 40%.
The Bottom Line: Beyond the thrilling win, the most encouraging thing for Russia is that they never stopped believing this game was up for grabs, even when they fell ten points behind, midway through the second quarter. They edged ahead 35-34 at the half-time buzzer, came back again from a 56-51 deficit early in the fourth and had the mental strength to raise to the occasion in the tight finale.