Despite being without three key players, Croatia beat the Ukraine 73-69 to finish with a perfect record in the Preliminary Round at the U18 European Championship Men 2009, in Metz, France.
Without Toni Prostran, Ivan Batur, Luka Babic, Croatia came from behind in the fourth quarter to maintain their unbeaten record and take top honours in Group B.
The Ukraine were handed their third defeat in as many games and will now battle it out in the 12-16th place games.
Oleg Ruban's side started the fourth quarter with a 57-54 cushion but Croatia's patience play paid off and they eventually took their first lead of the second half, 65-64, on Nikola Dosen's basket with 5:29 left to play.
The Ukrainians will rue their missed chances as they failed to make several free-throws down the stretch.
Pasko Vrlika put the Croats up 70-68 with 2:18 left and Oleksandr Propenko missed one of two attempts as Ukraine trailed 70-69 with under a minute to go.
Croatia then iced the game when Dino Jakolis hit a three-pointer at the other end for the final score.
In the first half, the teams traded the lead early and Ukraine were the first to pull away, taking a 22-17 lead into the second quarter thanks to Kostyantyn Anikiyenko's dead-eye shooting.
Croatia though came back within one, 27-26 on Pasko Vrila's three-pointer with 7:53 left in the half and with the momentum favouring them, took a 34-29 lead as Toni Brnas and Domagoj Bubalo got in on the scoring.
Ukraine responded with a 7-0 run capped by Sergii Galynin three-pointer to edge back in front 36-34 and it was back and forth until the break when the game was tied at 39.
Vrlika was the game's high-scored with 17 points.