Ukraine Score Big Win


Ukraine made it to the Qualifying Round after scoring their first win in the competition in the best timing, a 101-91 win over Croatia in Group A.

Coming into the game Ukraine knew a win by any margin would send them to the Qualifying Round, while Croatia wanted to win to have no dependency on Greece's game, and knew it can't afford more than an 11 point loss.

Oleksandr Kolchenko (Ukraine)
Oleksandr Kolchenko had 29 points and five rebounds for Ukraine.
Ukraine took over the game right from the start, and reached a 21 point difference in the second half, but Croatia fought back to just minus two before Ukraine recovered.

Nevertheless, Croatia can still qualify if Greece lose to Lithuania.

Oleksander Kolchenko led Ukraine with 29 points, five rebounds and four assists while Sergiy Gladyr celebrated with 20 points, four rebounds and four assists.

Franjo Bubalo led Croatia with 20 points and Ivan Milekovic hit all of his six shots from long range to reach 18 points.

"We didn't have a good start, and when we fought back it took a lot of energy from us," said Head Coach Ivan Sunura.

"We allowed them to score too many points and now we have to wait for the last game in the group to see where we'll play. We'll cross our fingers for Lithuania."

Both teams finished the Preliminary Round with a 1-2 record, and the result between Greece and Lithuania will decide the identity of the third team to qualify, between Greece and Croatia.

"It's a great achievement for us. Especially since we are missing almost half of the team," said Head Coach Denys Zhuravlov.

A close first quarter ended with Ukraine up 22-21 but didn't hint on what's coming next.

A rain of points downed on the Croatian basket as Ukraine scored no less than 37 points in the second quarter led by Kolchenko and Gladyr who combined 23 of those points, on the way to a 59-41 lead at half time.

"Today Kolchenko and Gladyr played together, and when they do that we have much better chances to win," commented Coach Zhuravlov.

"We scored a lot of points in fast breaks as a result of great defense."

The duo continued to burn the nets in the third, reaching a maximum lead of 21 points, but coach Sunara made a couple of changes in the line up and things started to work in the right direction.

First came an 11-0 run to make it just a ten point game, but with the momentum in their back Croatia showed no sign of stopping.

A minute inside the fourth Kruslin connected a three-ball from the corner to make it just 76-74 and re-open the game.

Ukraine answered with six points in a row but Croatia wasn't about to give up.

The gap went down to 87-83 but once again six unanswered points by Georgia made it a double-digit lead, and without Sakic who fouled out Croatia had no solutions.

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