Turning Point: The game-winning shot by Sergey Monya from three-point range decided the contest.
Game Hero: Aside from Monya, Aleksey Shved produced another encouraging display with 14 points an 6 rebounds.
Stats Don't Lie: Russia crushed their opponent on the glass 45-28.
|Sergey Monya celebrating his incredible buzzer-beater in front of FYR of Macedonia coach Marin Dokuzovski|
A dramatic buzzer-beater by Sergey Monya preserved the unbeaten status of Russia in a titanic tussle with F.Y.R. of Macedonia.
The Russian captain launched a three-pointer to help his team claim a 63-61 success, top group F, extend their winning streak to eight games and set up a quarter-final clash with Serbia.
It was tough luck on plucky F.Y.R. of Macedonia who fought gallantly without the influential Todor Gechevski to give hosts Lithuania real food for thought ahead of their last eight match-up.
F.Y.R. of Macedonia started the game in a perfect way when they raced out to an 8-0 lead. It caught Russia cold but it wasn't long before they caught up. They posted an 11-3 run to tie the game up, although F.Y.R. of Macedonia took a slender 20-19 advantage into the second period.
Russia then chose a smaller and more mobile line-up and it proved fruitful as they scored 9 of the next 10 points as F.Y.R. of Macedonia head coach Marin Dokuzovski called time-out in a bid to stop the rot.
With the Balkan side trailing 30-23, both teams began to find some form from the perimeter as the first half drew to a close with a flurry of three-point shots.
Big man Giorgij Chekovski came off the bench to make a couple from range for his team as F.Y.R. of Macedonia cut the gap and made it a one-possession game heading to the locker rooms at 37-34.
It also gave them some impetus, for when they returned to the floor and with points very much at a premium, they held Russia to just two scores in over six minutes to take the lead.
Andrei Kirilenko was having a rare off night but Russia finally came alive offensively through more great work by the ever-improving Aleksey Shved who scored six points in the period to put his team 51-49 in front heading into the final quarter.
Russia then began to take control thanks to a 7-2 run, F.Y.R. of Macedonia were getting no easy looks and found only one basket in five minutes.
However Russia then suffered a drought and went scoreless for six minutes as F.Y.R. of Macedonia sunk back-to-back triples through Vojdan Stojanovski and Vlado Iliveski to set up a thrilling finale - eventually decided by Monya's shot.