Turning Point: Inside the last 2:30 minutes, with Ukraine down by just three points and from a difficult situation, Viktor Khryapa rose above the defense for a jumper that gave his team some breathing room. He followd that up with a great rebound at the other end, while Andrei Kirilenko followed with two points of his own and the gap increased to seven just in the right timing.
Game Hero: Andrei Kirilenko wrote a big double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds in addition to four steals to be in charge of Russia's debut win. It was his best game with the national team, but he was there every time his team needed him, as a true leader should be.
Stats Don't Lie: Russia struggled scoring against the size of Ukraine in the paint and shot under 40% from the floor. Only 25 of Russia's 64 attempts at the basket fell in and forced them to enter the last minutes still unsure of the win.
Russia joined the list of winners on Day 1 of Group D action in Klaipeda following a 73-64 victory over Ukraine on Wednesday night.
Andrei Kirilenko led Russia with a double-double of 20 points and 11 rebounds and added four steals and a block. Vitaliy Fridzon added 12 points and Aleksey Shved added 10 to create a key contribution for Russia from the back court.
Ukraine saw Serhiy Lishchuk hit 13 points while Viacheslav Kravtsov had 12 points but fouled out in less than 19 minutes.
Both teams struggled to shoot but it was Russia who had a more difficult time making only 39% of their shots from the floor.
Ukraine was a bit better, hitting 42% from the field, yet hit 60% inside the arc to keep them in the game. A total of 19 turnovers, seven of them in the last quarter, made a big difference in the final outcome.
It was a close game for 40 minutes, but big plays by Viktor Khryapa and Kirilenko in the closing minutes allowed Russia to register a debut win in EuroBasket 2011.
"Every team in the championship wants to start with a win, and that's what we achieved today," said Khryapa
"Ukraine played a good game, but we played good as well and made some right choices in the last minute and that's what decided the game eventually."
Kravtsov scored seven out of Ukraine's first nine points to keep his team within 11-9, and later on in the second quarter edged his team ahead 24-23.
Kirilenko and Fridzon combined the next run by Russia that scored five in a row before the halftime buzzer and walked to the locker room break with a 28-24 edge.
AK47 scored six more points, including a big fastbreak dunk and Ukraine fell behind 39-30.
Russia quickly got a double-digit margin and held onto it for the next few minutes.
However, the final word of the third quarter belonged to Ukraine as Oleksandr Kolchenko reeled off four quick points and Lishchuk scored in the paint to make it a three point game, 53-50 heading into the final frame.
Russia recovered in time to keep the lead in their hands, but Lishchuk was there to put pressure on the Russian shoulders with a 65-62 score inside the last 3 minutes of the game.
Yet Coach David Blatt is lucky to have experienced players and a tough shot by Khryapa followed by a big rebound and a pair of free throws by Kirilenko created a seven point gap again, and from this one Ukraine was unable to recover.
On Thursday Russia will take on Georgia in the key game of Day 2 while Ukraine will face Slovenia in hope to capture their first win.