|Youngster Dario Saric had 12 points and a game-high eight rebounds for Croatia |
Croatia clinched first place in Group C of the EuroBasket Qualification Round with an 84-80 victory over Ukraine on Wednesday evening.
With both sides having sealed a place in next year's Final Round, top spot was still up for grabs.
Jasmin Repesa's Croatians had scraped a one-point triumph over the Ukrainians in the first meeting but trailed 25-20 at the end of the first quarter in the rematch.
But in front of a home crowd, a fiery Repesa got the best possible response out of his players as they outscored Ukraine 28-10 in the second quarter to take a 48-35 lead to the changing rooms.
Bojan Bogdanovic had 12 points at half-time for Croatia.
Ukraine battled and made things uncomfortable in the final minutes for Croatia, trimming the hosts' lead to 82-77 with 27 seconds to play after a three-pointer from Steven Parker Burtt.
Oleksiy Pecherov nailed a three-pointer with 13 seconds to play to make it a four-point game but Croatia held on.
Luksa Andric had 16 points to pace Croatia with Bogdanovic pouring in 15.
Burtt had a game-high 22 points and seven assists in defeat.
One of the rising stars in the Croatian game, Dario Saric, had 12 points and eight rebounds.
The 2.08m power forward was the MVP of the U18 European Championship last month after leading his side to the gold medal.
Saric had averaged a tournament high 25.6 points per game in the Baltics, where the tournament was staged.
He didn't look out of place at all with the senior team against Ukraine and could feature at next year's EuroBasket.