|08 July 2010|
A stellar double-double by Dynamo Moscow forward Vladimir Ivlev got Russia off to a winning start in Group C after they managed to grind out a hard-fought 73-68 victory against Italy.
Ivlev registered 18 points and 13 rebounds in another intensely physical tussle in Makarska with the game hanging in the balance right up until the buzzer.
Russia managed to come out on top despite their inability to look after the ball against the Italians who themselves could have sneaked the win but crucially their potential match winners such as Alessandro Gentile were well shackled by the active Russian defence.
When Russia led 48-41 midway during the third quarter it looked like they might have broken the game open but Italy rallied and produced a 10-1 run to go back in front.
Russia then exploded back into life with ten unanswered points but still Italy clung on. Trailing by seven points in the last quarter, Benetton Treviso team-mates Gentile and Daniele Sandri combined to make it a one shot game with just over four minutes to go.
It was even more intriguing when a spectacular jam by the energetic Paul Biligha made it 68-66 with just 39 seconds left. However Russia held their nerve from the free-throw line to secure their first tournament success.
Giacomo Sanguinetti top scored for Italy with 18 points before fouling out in the dying stages of the game.