|08 September 2012|
|Roko Leni Ukic stepped up in crunch time, making the game-winner for Croatia|
Roko Ukic nailed a game-winning jump shot at the death as Croatia beat Hungary 81-79 in the EuroBasket Qualification Round.
Hungary, needing a win to maintain a faint hope of reaching next year's Final Round, instead suffered a painful defeat that dropped the team to 2-5.
The top two sides in each of the six groups advance to the next year's Final Round in Slovenia, and the four best third-place teams.
Croatia had already wrapped up first place in Group C ahead of Ukraine, with both sides having clinched spots in next year's EuroBasket.
As it is, Austria (3-4) will now finish third no matter what their result is on Tuesday at Croatia.
The Austrians are keeping their fingers crossed that they can advance as one of the best third-place teams.
Croatia had blown out Hungary in the first meeting by 24 points but the second encounter was close from start to finish.
Despite Croatia going on top 72-64 on a Krunoslav Simon jumper midway through the fourth quarter, Hungary didn't allow them to pull away.
Instead, Adam Hanga immediately replied with a three-ball and then a lay-up to reduce the arrears to 72-69.
Miklos Szabo's lay-up with 2:22 to go cut the Croatia advantage to 79-77 and neither team scored again until Rok Stipcevic fouled Obie Trotter with nine seconds left and the guard sank both free-throws to knot the contest.
After a timeout by the visitors, Croatia went to the experienced Ukic who had made just three of his previous eight shots.
The point guard drilled his jumper for the two-point Croatia triumph.
Bojan Bogdanovic led Croatia with 17 points.
Hungary lost despite a 24-point, eight-rebound effort from Peter Lorant.
Hanga weighed in with 10 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and three blocks.