Estonia loses to Russia in EuroBasket qualifiers

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Maik-Kalev Kotsar. Source: FIBA

The Estonian national basketball team traveled to Perm to face the Russian national team on Sunday, receiving a 52:75 loss. Estonia will next face North Macedonia to clinch their qualification for the main EuroBasket tournament.

The opening quarter in Perm started with a tight struggle, highlighted by a Rait-Riivo Laane to Janari Jõesaar alley-oop connection off an inbounds pass. The Russians however closed the first quarter with a 17:15 lead.

Estonia then tied the game to start the second period and held a lead until the mid-point of the second quarter. From 24:24, Russia went on a 9:3 however to close the quarter at 33:27.

The Russians took the initiative to start the second half, but a strong push from Estonia brought them back from an 11-point deficit to three with four minutes to play. Another run from Russia in the last three minutes of the third period extended their lead back up to 13, which Estonia was able to shave down to 53:45.

Estonia never got to less than a ten-point deficit in the fourth period however with Russia opening up a 19-point lead with four minutes remaining. Estonia's eastern neighbor kept up the tempo in the final moments of the game, capping the 75:52 victory with Estonia only scoring seven points to Russia's 22.

Janari Jõesaar was Estonia's high point man with ten points. Henri Drell added nine with Maik-Kalev Kotsar and Kristian Kullamäe scoring eight points of their own. Evgenii Baburin scored 14 points for Russia with Andrey Vorontsevich adding 13.

Estonia needed to defeat Russia to clinch their qualification for the EuroBasket 2022 main tournament, but can still move to the tournament with a win over North Macedonia on Monday. In fact, Estonia can lose the match by no more than seven points, going through on point differential.

Estonia defeated Italy 105:101 in overtime on Friday evening behind Kotsar's 32 points. After losing the first quarter by a point, Estonia sniped their way to a 22-point lead in the third quarter, but gave up the lead, allowing Italy to tie for overtime. The additional five minutes went by in tight competition, but a three-pointer from 20-year old Henri Drell three seconds before the game ended was the dagger and gave Estonia a 105:101 win.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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