U20 European Championship
|Russia's top scorer, forward Andrey Zubkov, finished the game with 13 points but only on 30% shooting from the floor as the Swedish defence made it difficult for him to connect with the basket |
Russia remained perfect in Group E but had to leave a lot of sweat and extra heartbeats before taking a 67-65 victory over Sweden on Tuesday afternoon.
Russia climbed to a 4-0 record and is still glued to France at the top of the group, and one win short from winning this group as well.
Sweden fell to 0-4 and as long as Latvia won't beat Slovenia in the following game, still have a chance to go through.
This is the second loss in a row for Sweden by a margin of two points, and the third time in the five games played in the entire competition.
Andrey Zubkov led Russia with 13 points and six boards, Ruslan Tumanov added 12 while Pavel Antipov and Nikita Barinov had 10 each.
Viktor Gaddefors was the top scorer of Sweden with 17 points and had eight boards, Andres Person finished with 12 and Charles Barton collected 11.
Russia enjoyed a 10-0 run midway in the first quarter to take a 23-10 early lead after 7:13 minutes, yet Sweden hit back-to-back three pointers and a Gaddefors attacked the rim to make it just 30-27 after 13 minutes of basketball.
Barton combined three points to tie the score, and Sweden already grabbed the lead but saw Tumanov sink a long range one to make it 39-38 after one half.
Sweden didn't find the path to the net after the break and for full five minutes went scoreless as Russia jumped to 51-38 and completed a 15-0 run, yet the start of the closing quarter told the exact opposite story.
Now Russia was out of focus and Alexander Lindqvist was in charge of eight points in a row for his team to make it just a two point game, 58-56.
Person with a three pointer managed to cut it even to one point, but Zubkov on both ends of the floor kept Russia on top.
With 15 second to play down by four Sweden called a time out that resulted a lay-up by Gaddefors, and quick pressure on the ball.
Antipov was unfortunate to make a bad pass and Sweden had the chance to tie or win but Christopher Czerapowicz, who hit just one shot in six attempts before the last one, took the chance, but his ball went out, and Sweden, once again, dropped a close game.
On the closing day of the Qualifying Round Russia will take on France in a direct fight for the top spot of the group while Sweden will seek for their first victory in this stage.