Gregor Arbet scored 13 points in the third quarter to help inspire Estonia to a 78-71 Group D triumph against Ukraine in Riga, Latvia on Monday, their first EuroBasket victory since 1993.
Turning Point: Whatever coach Tiit Sokk said to his team during half-time certainly did the trick as they erupted for a 13-0 run early in the second half, outscoring Ukraine 22-6 in the period. That sequence included 11 points from Arbet who was one of several Estonians to find his range from beyond-the-arc to held build positive momentum. Ukraine refused to go away as Olexandr Mishula hit some big shots to keep it close, but Estonia held their nerve.
Stats Don't Lie: Estonia's return to placing their faith in three-point shooting paid dividends in this one as they connected on 11-of-33 attempts from long range. But their 25 points from turnovers and five offensive rebounds in the opening stages of the fourth quarter provided huge emotional lifts.
Game Hero: Arbet took over in the third period and while it still required a fantastic team effort to ensure Estonia made it over the line, his 26-point showing was pivotal.
The Bottom Line: Estonia's first two performances did not suggest such a display was possible but they were transformed in spirit and execution from the defeats against Czech Republic and Belgium - and their reward is an historic victory. Ukraine looked lost at times, Kyrylo Fesenko was unable to exude the influence he had done previously while their 18 turnovers demonstrated the disjointed nature of their offence. They now face an uphill battle to advance.