Ilona Korstin and Russia got their win but it gave them no guarantees
By Paul Nilsen
Turning Point: Because of an extraordinary sequence of events, there was actually a turning point for each side. The ‘and-1' play by Irina Osipova with four minutes remaining really got Russia moving and on course to secure the win. But the astonishing last gasp score by Kathrin Ress which reduced the winning margin to six points, gave Italy a lifeline in the competition.
Stats Don't Lie: Italy allowed Russia to shoot 45% from the three-point line which hurt, although if Russia had made one of their four missed free-throws, they would have progressed for sure.
Game Heroes: Marina Kuzina played well with 15 points and six rebounds for Russia including a perfect three-for-three from long-range.
Defending champions Russia collected their first win at EuroBasket Women 2013 with a 72-66 victory against Italy, but both sides have been left sweating on their fate as they await the outcome of the last Group B game.
With their destiny to be decided by Spain and Sweden who had both already taken their place in Round 2, the Russian players were left to cheer for a Swedish success, whilst Italy needed Spain to prevail.
Unsurprisingly, experienced Italian forward Raffaella Masciadri was anticipating a long couple of hours wait for Round 1 to be completed.
She said, "It was a tough game and we tried to do the best we could.
"We wanted to put pressure on their point guards, but we let them score too many three-pointers.
"On the other hand, we played smart but we just missed too many easy shots.
"We let them score some points in the paint at the end and now we just have to sit and wait for the other result."
Russia had always looked most capable of finally producing a win, but every time that they broke away, the young Italian side with nine EuroBasket Women debutantes, showed real courage by reeling them back in.
Italy were 19-9 behind in the early stages after Kusina dropped a couple of shots from distance and at that stage, very much on the ropes, but the Azzurre came roaring back - a pattern which would continue.
Down 35-30 at the break, 20-year-old Francesca Dotto made a score right at the end of the third quarter to cut the gap to a single point. Then the Italian bench were on their feet as Matina Fassina secured the lead at the start of the final period.
However, it was 21 points from Giorgia Sottana that mainly kept Italy in contention and especially when they went behind by double-digits at 57-48.
Russia looked almost certain to dodge a bullet as the game clock ticked down, but their EuroBasket Women 2013 status and crown was thrown into jeopardy via the dramatic late intervention by Ress.