Mikhail Kulagin put on a great display for Russia for the second consecutive day, to lead them to victory and the Second Round
By Jared Grellet
Russia clung on for a five-point, 69-64 victory over Poland on Friday, securing a place in the Second Round of the Samsung European U18 Championship.
Despite only leading temporarily during the opening quarter, Poland stayed in touch with Russia throughout the game to be within two points on a Kacper Radwanski three-pointer with 19 seconds to play.
However, Russia's star from day one of the championship, Mikhail Kulagin, retained a cool demeanour at the free-throw line moments later, calmly sinking a pair to bring an end to Poland's chances.
Following on from his 18-point, 10-rebound double-double against Slovenia, Kulagin was again at the fore against Poland, finishing with 21 points and eight rebounds.
An inability to clean up under their own basket proved costly for Poland as Aleksandr Chernov's troops were allowed to help themselves to 20 second-chance points.
Picking up two unsportsmanlike fouls in three minutes, Dawid Morawiec did not help Poland's cause, finding himself ejected from the game early in the second frame.
Assisting Kulagin with 19 points was Stanislav Ilnitskiy whilst Rostislav Karenin chipped in with eight points and eight rebounds.
Mikolaj Witlinski topped Polish scoring with 20 points.
Poland now enter a do-or-die battle with Slovenia in their final Group D game on Saturday whilst Russia will be hoping to keep their winning record intact against Croatia, as they look ahead to the second phase of the tournament.