Toni Prostran and Ivan Batur showed just why they are a feared twosome in this tournament as they combined for 48 points to lead Croatia past Ukraine 84-62 in the qualifying round in Rethimnon.
Prostran, who finished with a game-high 32 points in just 26 minutes, used his poor performance in a loss to Turkey yesterday – in which he shot four for 19 from the field for his tournament low of 11 points – as a source of motivation for today’s game.
Turkey avoided a potential upset when they held off a second half charge by Croatia to win 72-65.
The 2005 champions of this competition took the lead from the start and looked headed for an easy win when they led 42-28 at the break.
Russia beat Croatia 74-73 on Vladimir Chichaykin’s lay up at the buzzer but it wasn’t enough for last year’s runners-up to avoid being dumped out of the competition at Ierapetra tonight.
Alexei Vadeev’s men, who finished second in this tournament in 2004 and 2006, crashed out in the preliminary round because, even though they shared the same win-loss record as both Croatia and Latvia in Group C.
Croatia came from behind to defeat Latvia 80-77 and clinch their first and crucial win of the group stages at Ierapetra tonight.
Ivan Batur scored 31 points and Toni Prostan added 28 for Vladimir Vanjak’s men who trailed 72-60 after Artjoms Butjankovs scored a lay up for Latvia with just under seven minutes left.