Credit: FIBA
Credit FIBA

Russia (1-0) got off on the right foot in their World Cup 2023 Qualifying race by comfortably beating Italy (0-1) 92-78 (15-14, 22-23, 27-22, 28-19) at the Yubileyniy Sport Complex in Saint Petersburg.

The two teams went hand-in-hand in the first half, as Russia counted on Ivan Strebkov in scoring and playmaking.

The point guard of Nizhny was the man who guided the Russians over that span, while Italy was relying heavily on the Tessitori-Tonut duo and their three-point accuracy which reached or exceeded 50%.

Following a perfectly even (37-37) first 20 minutes, the hosts went on a 10-0 run that gave them a double-digit lead (47-37) for the first time.

Strbkov scored and distributed, Alexander Khomenko and Anton Astapkovich contributed on both ends, while Meo Sacchetti's men were committing one turnover after another.

Five consecutive points by Leonardo Candi helped Italy recover some of the lost ground by the end of the third quarter (64-59).

However, the "Azzurri" weren't able to complete their comeback since the Russians managed to get to the free-throw line early on in the fourth quarter.

Tonut completed a three-point action to make it 70-65 with more than six minutes remaining but that was Italy's last attempt at turning things around in Saint Petersburg.

Toporov and Zaitsev took over, leading their side to another 10-0 that essentially ended the game.

Anton Astapkovich was the winners' leading scorer with 21 points (2/2 2PT, 5/8 3PT, 2/2 FT), 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 5 turnovers, 2 blocks. Meanwhile, Sergey Toporov followed with 17 points.

The team coached by Zoran Lukic, who made his debut on the Russian bench, went 12/21 from the perimeter while dishing out 25 assists.

For Italy, Stefano Tonut poured in 20 points (6/12 FG, 6/7 FT), plus 3 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 turnovers), and Amedeo Tessitori contributed another 19.

The Italians scored more than one-third (27/78) of their total point from the charity stripe.

Russia: Anton Astapkovich 21 (7/10 FGs, 5/8 3-POINT SHOTS, 2/2 FT, 5 REB, 2 AST, 5 TO, 2 BLK), Sergey Toporov 17 (7/10 FGs, 2/2 FT, 2 REB, 2 AST), Artem Komolov 12 (2 REB, 3 AST), Ivan Strebkov 10 (4/6 FG, 3 REB, 5 AST), Viacheslav Zaitsev 7 (2/7 FG, 2 REB, 8 AST).

Italy: Stefano Tonut 20 (6/12 FG, 6/7 FT, 3 REB, 6 AST, 2 TO), Amedeo Tessitori 19 (4/7 FGs, 9/9 FT, 6 REB, 2 AST), Leonadro Candi 10 (3/5 FG), Nicola Akele 7 (3/8 FG, 6 REB).

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