LONDON – The medals will be handed out when it’s all over, but Russia’s Vitaly Fridzon will leave here having secured at least one spectacular memory from this competition.
Fridzon knocked down an off-balance 3-pointer from the corner, on a brilliantly executed play with four seconds to play to cap a thrilling 75-74 comeback win over Brazil.
“Coach told me if I was open to shoot it,” said Fridzon, who had his legs taken out on the shot by Brazil’s Leandro Barbosa. “I shot it.”
Fridzon’s shot capped a furious comeback from Russia, which squandered an 11-point early only to see Brazil turn the tables on them late. Brazil point guard Marcelinho Huertas scored on a layup with 6.1 seconds to play.
Russia’s coach, American David Blatt, took a timeout after the shot from Huertas, and dialed up the perfect play.
“Good for him, really good for him,” Blatt said of Fridzon. “He made the coach look good. He had to catch and release the ball quickly. More important than the play was the execution. They executed it to perfection.”
Andrei Kirilenko led Russia with 19 points. Timofey Mozgov had 18 before fouling out late. Aleksey Shved, headed to the Minnesota Timberwolves along with Kirilenko, finished with 17 points.
Barbosa led Brazil with 16 points. Larry Taylor added 12 and Nene finished with eight points and 10 rebounds.
SPAIN TOPS GREAT BRITAIN IN A NAIL-BITER
If that Russia-Brazil finish wasn’t wild enough, Spain and the host nation team Great Britain tried to top them in the first game of the evening session, with Spain escaping with a 79-78 win when Jose Calderon dribbled the final seven seconds off of the game clock.
Luol Deng hit an off-balance 3-pointer with seven seconds left to pull within 79-78 and somehow Jose Calderon was allowed to dribble out clock. Deng had four fouls and had facilitated the comeback and did not want to pick up his fifth (five fouls ends your game in international competition).
Deng finished with 26 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, another valiant effort in defeat for the best player on Great Britain’s team. Joel Freeland played a huge game as well, finishing with 25 points and making three of his seven shots from beyond the 3-point line, as well as seven rebounds in a head-to-head matchup against Spain’s superstar frontline of Pau and Marc Gasol.
Pau Gasol finished with 17 points and five assists and Marc Gasol 12 points and three rebounds, but it was Calderon who did the most damage for Spain. He knocked down the free throws down the stretch and had that heady play to finish the game. He led Spain with 19 points, four rebounds and two assists.
PARKER, BATUM LEAD FRANCE PAST LITHUANIA
Tony Parker scored 27 points, including seven of the last eight of the game, and Nicolas Batum 21 Thursday as France beat Lithuania 82-74.
Parker’s 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter sealed a 10-2 run that gave France the lead for good. Lithuania never got closer than seven points the rest of the way.
And that’s two straight impressive wins for France since their 27-point blowout loss to the U.S. in their opener. Much of that is due to Parker finally finding his rhythm after spending just 10 days in full preparation for the competition after a June nightclub incident left him unable, at the behest of team doctors, go through the normal process.
“I am feeling better and better,” Parker said. “I feel like I’ve found my legs again, but in the last game (against Argentina) I was already feeling better. I felt like the shots I was taking would go in. Today I felt in rhythm, I tried to be aggressive but patient without getting frustrated and wanting to do too much.”
Boris Diaw had a solid game with 10 points, eight assists and six rebounds. Ronny Turiaf finished with 1o rebounds.
Martynas Pocius led Lithuania with 18 points and Linas Kleiza added 17.
A three-time Olympic bronze medalist, Lithuania is 1-2 heading into Saturday’s showdown with the U.S.
GINOBILI LEADS ARGENTINA PAST PESKY TUNISIA
Manu Ginobili made sure a 40-40 halftime score was a footnote for the Argentina, scoring 24 points to help his team run away from Tunisia for a 92-69 .
He got help from his NBA friends as Carlos Delfino chipped in with 21 points and Luis Scola 20 as Tunisia simply couldn’t sustain their effort against a second straight team stocked with NBA players. The U.S. waxed them by 47 points Tuesday night.
Tunisia’s lead was 14 points after the first 10 minutes but Ginobili went to work in the second quarter, scoring all but three of Argentina’s 15-0 run that completely changed the momentum of the game. He knocked down a 3-pointer to start the second half and Argentina led the rest of the way.
Salah Mejri finished with 19 points for Tunisia. Mourad El Mabrouk had 16.
AUSTRALIA THUMPS CHINA, YI INJURES KNEE
China didn’t just lose the game to Australia, 81-61, Thursday morning. They also lost their best player to injury when Yi Jianlian took a lick above his right knee.
“He took a bang just above the knee, not on the knee,” said China coach Bob Donewald. “We’ll have to see how he is.”
Patty Mills led Australia with 20 points. David Andersen added 17 points for Australia.