The Estonian men's national basketball team took a 28-point loss in their first European championships qualifier match played in the Tallinn "bubble", losing to Russia 56:84 (14:18, 13:23, 15:21, 14:22).
Russia iimmediately grabbed the initiative in the game played behind closed doors at Saku Suurhall, going out to a 10:0 lead to start. Estonia, while able to get their game going a bit, was never able to climb out to a lead. The Russians were accurate from deep throughout the first half, hitting on ten three-pointers to Estonia's three.
Russia continued with their hot hand from three-point land to add to their 14-point lead after half. In the meantime, Estonia could not find a way to penetrate the Eastern neighbor's solid defense all second half. Estonia lost the third quarter by six points and the final quarter by eight points. In total, Russia scored 28 more points in the game.
Russia hit 19 of their attempted 36 shots (52.78 percent) from deep and was also accurate on their free throws (13/15). The high scorer for the team was Evgeny Baburin, bringing his team 19 points - 15 of those from three - off the bench. Andrey Vorontsevich and Ivan Strebkov added 15 and 12 points, respectively.
Estonia's accuracy from long range paled in comparison with the opponent. The home team only scored on five of their attempet 22 shots from three. Janari Jõesaar was the high-point man for Estonia, scoring 11 points. Rain Veideman added 10.
Monday's game against North Macedonia canceled
The North Macedonian national basketball team traveled to Estonia for the European championships qualifier matches. Their first game was supposed to take place on Monday evening against the host nation Estonia, but after three North Macedonian players were discovered to have the coronavirus, the game was canceled.
The diagnosed player, after having complained of feeling unwell on Friday, was tested for COVID-19 immediately and gave a positive result. A round of rapid testing conducted on Saturday brought out another three positives, leading to testing extended to the whole team. A full round of PCR testing uncovered three team members with COVID-19 by Sunday morning.
The International Basketball Association (FIBA) decided to cancel Monday's game between Estonia and North Macedonia, leaving Italy and Russia to face each other in the final game of the "bubble" environment in Tallinn. Their game is set for 4 p.m. Estonian time on Monday.
The canceled games (Italy - North Macedonia, Estonia - North Macedonia) are planned for the February window of the qualifiers.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste