|Pavel Sizov had 14 points in the ball game but the most important surely was his last score that clinched victory for his side|
by Yarone Arbel
Russia is alive and kicking in the race to the quarter-finals after an 89-87 win over Poland behind a winning shot by Pavel Sizov in Group F of the U16 European Championship at Osnovna Skola Jugoslavija in Bar, Montenegro on Tuesday evening.
This is the first win of Russia in the Qualifying Round that now bestows them a 1-3 record and a good view to the promised land of the next phase, while Poland dropped to 0-4 and will play the 9-12 Classification Round.
Tomorrow Russia will go head-to-head with Bulgaria in a game that can decide the identity of the last qualifier to the quarter-finals, while Poland will try to sting Turkey.
Dmitry Guzikov was the top scorer of Russia with 19 points and he added also 10 rebounds, Vasily Martynov had 18, Georgy Egorov added 17, Pavel Sizov finished with 14, seven rebounds and five steals while Stanislav Ilnitskiy reached 12 points.
Daniel Szymkiewicz and Jakub Garbacz combined more than half of their team's points when each scored 26, Filip Struski added 12 with eight rebounds and Damian Jeszke finished with 11 and eight boards.
A game of ups and downs almost finished with a Polish steal following a big comeback in the closing minutes.
Poland scored 32 points in the first quarter but saw Russia reply with 30 in the second and take the lead before the half, and take off early in the third.
Russia witnessed Poland tie the game in the closing seconds after trailing from the second quarter but found Sizov to win the game with a great shot.
Poland had the better start with a 4-11 lead, but Martynov hit five in a row to keep his team in the picture and stand just one point behind.
Szymkiewicz and Jeszke pushed their team to another run and started the second quarter with a 19-34 lead, and Russia looked for the right tools and found it in the outside shooting.
Guzikov joined forces with Egorov who fired a three pointer and cut the difference to 33-37 and with another push by Guzikov take a 41-39 lead and complete a 22-5 run in less than seven minutes.
Martynov reactivated his scoring power and Sizov stepped up as well to finish the first half with a 49-44 lead after a great offensive display.
The same Martynov carried Russia to score the first nine points of the second half, and in total extend the big run to 39-10 and write a 58-44 on the scoreboard.
Szymkiewicz tried to shake things up for Poland and with 13 minutes to play it was just a seven point gap, 68-61 yet Egotov scored another big three, and Sizov displayed his skills under the rim to write a 78-65 gap in the early minutes of the closing quarter.
The Polish prodigy didn't give up and with a bucket followed by a great assist made it just 82-76 with still a lot of time to play.
After almost three minutes without points on either side Guzikov broke the drought with a pair from the foul line, but Poland were the first to score from the field, with a big three pointer and enter the last minute down by five points.
Martynov still set it back on six with 33 ticks to play, but Szym made a three point play and after a turnover by Guzikov it was Struski who shocked Russia with a three pointer to tie the game at 87-87 and send Russia to think.
Following a time out Mikhail Kulagin had the ball, and had the right plan for it as his pass stopped with Sizov who scored the buzzer-beater and gave his team the win.