Credit: FEB
Credit FEB

Spain (3-1) needed a last-second block from Sebas Saiz on Vyacheslav Bobrov to down hosts Ukraine (2-2) 77-76 (20-19, 18-20, 17-21, 20-16) in Riga for Group G of the 2023 World Cup Qualifiers.

The conflict in Ukraine had suspended the match in Kyiv which was to be held last February.

Last Monday, Sergio Scariolo's men suffered their first defeat in Tbilisi after five straight wins. On the other hand, Ukraine beat the Georgians last week and North Macedonia last Monday. 

The second phase that will start in August sees Spain go up against Italy, Iceland and the Netherlands, while Ukraine tie with Georgia (2-2) in the middle of the standings. At the end of the second phase, in February 2023, the top three teams will earn a place in the final tournament.

Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk scored 15 for the hosts, but on a poor 5/22 from the field. Artem Pustovyi added 13 and Ivan Tkachenko 10 for the losing side. Jaime Fernandez and Xabi Lopez-Arostegui scored 14 and 11 respectively, for Sergio Scariolo's squad. 

A partial score of 21-17 in the third quarter put the hosts up by three (60-57) going into the final stretch. Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk scored in transition to make it 67-61 with seven minutes left. Lopez-Arostegui and Quino Colom couldn't provide any offensive solutions to Scariolo, but Jaime Pradilla was there to keep Spain in the game. 

Scariolo implemented a 3-2 zone defense but that didn't put Spain out of their offensive misery. Mykhailiuk hit a big three-pointer to increase Ukraine's lead to five (73-68), but Spain made the most out of an unsportsmanlike foul that allowed Jaime Fernandez to complete a 0-6 run. The world champs got the upper hand (74-73), however Ukraine's rebounding prowess gave them the chance to tie again. 

Fernandez made the lay-up that restored the lead for the guests, Sanon responded with a tough shot and Fernandez missed a couple of free throws. Mykhailiuk took the potential game-winner from behind the arc, but the ball didn't even reach the rim. 

Lopez-Arostegui got the foul from Shannon with only 7.4'' left, but wasted his first attempt from the stripe (76-77). Sanon found Vyacheslav Bobrov near the basket, but the Ukrainian big man saw his lay-up get blocked by Sebastian Saiz.

Ukraine: Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk 15 (5/22 FG, 1/10 3PT SHOTS, 4/5 FT, 6 REB), Artem Pustovyi 13 (6/10 FG, 9 REB), Ivan Tkachenko 10.

Spain: Jaime Fernandez 14 (5/12 FG, 1/4 FT), Xabi Lopez-Arostegui 11 (4/8 FG), Sebastian Saiz 10 (4/5 FG, 5 REB, 2 BL), Quino Colom 8 (3/10 FG, 4 AST).

Full game highlights:

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