Russia Break Slovenia Hearts // 12 July 2007

There will not be a semi-final or final between the co-hosts Italy and Slovenia after Russia knocked off the Slovenians 63-55 to book their spot in Saturday's semi-finals of the U20 European Championship Men.

Russia's defence held Slovenia scoreless over the final five possessions and forced 23 turnovers in the game while Petr Gubanov provided a crucial offensive spark off the bench for the victory in the final game in Group E.

Emir Preldzic (SLO)
Emir Preldzic top-scored for Slovenia but his efforts were not enough for the hosts

Russia finished second in the group with a 4-1 record and could have overtaken 4-1 Serbia on goal difference had Artur Urazmanov made a three-pointer in the waning seconds instead of dribbling out the clock.

Andrey Maltsev's Russian side will now face Spain in Saturday's semi-finals with Serbia taking on Italy in the other.

Slovenia picked the worst time to suffer their first defeat of the tournament after five straight victories as 19 points by Emir Preldzic and 12 points and 14 rebounds by Gasper Vidmar were not enough.

Russia started strong in the game and built up an 8-2 lead in the first three minutes. Maltsev's troops started lighting it up from the outside with four three-pointers in grabbing an 18-12 lead.
Gubanov rattled off six straight points in bringing Russia to within 20-18 after one period.

Russia's offensive struggles continued in the second quarter with just one basket over the next eight possessions, watching Slovenia push their advantage to 30-20 midway through the second on Preldzic's three-pointer.

Alexey Shved answered with back-to-back three-pointers and long range bombs from Maxim Sheleketo and Andrey Vorontsevich at the buzzer put Russia ahead 33-32 at the break.

After a combined 24 turnovers in the first half, both teams took better care of the ball and neither team could open a cushion with both teams leading by four points as the quarter ended with Russia ahead 51-47.

Vorontsevich put back an offensive rebound with 2:02 left to give Russia a 60-55 lead.

With 50 seconds remaining, Maxim Krivosheev blocked Mlakar's lay-up attempt and Shved was sent to the free throw line with 21 seconds left.

Shved made one and Vorontsevich rebounded the second miss, with Slovenia again sending Shved to the charity stripe. This time, he made both shots to push the lead to 63-55 with 14 seconds left.

Pavel Sergeev blocked Jan Mocnik's three-point attempt with six seconds remaining, and Urazmanov dribbled out the clock without knowing that another basket would have given Russia the better goal average over Serbia.

A crying Urazmanov had to be consoled by his coach after the final mistake.

Gubanov led Russia with 12 points while Shved and Vorontsevich each scored 11 points.