|Agasiy Tonoyan and Russia shocked Spain with their early aggression|
Russia caused the first shock of the 2014 U16 European Championship, holding off a late fight-back to upset reigning champions Spain 76-67 with a fine display of controlled aggression in Grobina on Thursday.
Turning Point: Russia had put themselves in a good position before the inevitable Spanish comeback looked set to begin in the third quarter, following a tight second period. But far from being pegged back, Russia responded with an 11-0 streak of their own to give them the biggest lead of the night at 59-32. This gave them enough of a cushion to survive a more concerted Spanish effort late on.
Game Hero: Maxim Barashkov enjoyed a great night as, playing more than 36 minutes, he scored 16 points and pulled in 13 rebounds. But his contribution was felt more in areas that don't show up on the stats sheet. He embodied the drive that defined this Russian performance in a physical game that threatened to boil over at times.
Stats Don't Lie: Spain's paltry 29% shooting from the field ultimately cost them and this came as a result of countless rushed offences. This was in contrast to Russia's measured approach that created good looks close to the basket, which were finished with aggression, as Russia were successful with 49% of their attempts.
The Bottom Line: Few saw this result coming following the events of day one but Russia deserve great credit not only for the way they exploited their match-up advantages in the first instances but for also holding off Spain's late rally. The reigning champions will perhaps take solace in that spirited fight-back, which demonstrated some of their fighting qualities, but will no doubt question the poor execution that put them in such a tough spot to begin with.