By Yarone Arbel
Just as they did 4 years ago in EuroBasket 2001, the Croatian national team finished the European Championship in 7th place after beating Russia 92-74 classification game for 7th-8th place on Sunday.
The Russian side finished 8th for the second time in a row.
Neven Spahija, Croatia's coach, rested Gordan Giricek and Marko Popovic for the entire game and missed the injured Mario Kasun and Zoran Planinic.
But his youngsters didn't let him down.
Croatia got big performances from Marko Tomas and Damir Rancic who scored 22 points each and shot a combined 10 of 18 from the three point line.
Russia, who were still without the injured Andrei Kirilenko, were behind from the first minutes of the game. Tomas nailed a big three after just 4 minutes to give his team their first double-digit lead, 12-2.
Viktor Khryapa, who had 8 points and 9 rebounds in the first half, brought Russia to within 1 point at half time, 42-41, but after Rancic opened the third quarter with a three-pointer, Croatia never looked back and another arrow from downtown by Rancic sparked a 13 point lead late in the third that just kept growing.
Roko Leni Ukic produced another big performance at the point guard position for Croatia with 16 points and 7 assists.
Vitaly Fridzon and Fedor Likholitov scored 14 each for Russia.