Posts Tagged ‘Russia’

Gasol’s Summer Keeps Getting Better

LONDON – If the good times keep on rolling like this, Pau Gasol isn’t going to want to see this summer end.

On the same day Gasol led Spain from 13 points down to a win over Russia in the first of two semifinals here at the Olympics, he found out that the Lakers put the finishing touches on a blockbuster deal that will pair he and All-Star center Dwight Howard in a revamped frontcourt that will be the envy of the NBA. Add all that to the Steve Nash sign-and-trade deal from last month and the realization that Gasol’s name will no longer come up in trade rumors (it ended up being Andrew Bynum) and things couldn’t get much better.

Well, there is always that game Sunday and a potential matchup against his good friend and teammate Kobe Bryant and the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team, and those other two high-profile teammates back in the States watching all of the action unfold.

It’s a decent rebound summer for a guy whose name had come up in so many trade rumors over the past two years that it made it hard not to internalize all of the chatter. Instead of heading elsewhere, Gasol will be a central figure on a Lakers team that vaults into the mix with Miami and Oklahoma City as favorites to win the 2012-13 NBA title.

Most importantly, Gasol will stay put in Los Angeles for at least the foreseeable future.

“That’s big news, big news.” Gasol said after Spain’s 67-59 win over Russia. “That’s huge. I’ve been involved in so many talks and so many rumors, we all know that. After a while I’ve been able to block it out. So I feel relieved. And I’m anxious and excited with our team, fully committed and fully focused on working extremely hard and just our team as much as I can.”

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Russia And Spain Into The Semifinals

LONDON – Russia and Spain will square off in one Olympic semifinal, both of them having survived in quarterfinal action North Greenwich Arena Wednesday.

Russia survived a late Lithuania rally and held on for an 83-74 win behind Andrei Kirilenko‘s 19 points and 13 rebounds and some clutch shooting late from captain Sergey Monya. They led five players in double digits for Russia, which finished first in pool play from Group B.

“Sergey Monya, our captain, is the face of everything we do, the face of Russia,” said Russia’s coach David Blatt. “He has played in every game for Russia in the seven years I have been with the team. He came up the biggest at the right time. He made the two biggest shots of the game and maybe of our career together.”

Spain had to survive France and some late-game licks to advance. They closed the game on a 12-2 run and won 66-59 to set up Friday’s semifinal matchup against Russia.

Nicolas Batum took a nasty swing at Juan Carlos Navarro, balling up his fist and swinging below the belt with 24 seconds to play. His frustration boiled over after his team’s inability to finish with a flourish, the loss itself and Spain’s “flopping” as France exited the competition before the medal round.

It was the second or third such incident of the competition, with Chris Paul of the U.S. and Facundo Campazzo of Argentina both taking swings (or at least Paul was accused of taking one) during their last pool play game Monday night.

“I just wanted to give him a good reason to flop,” an unapologetic Batum said after the game. He was called for an unsportmanlike foul but wasn’t ejected from the game. And as players from both sides shook hands, Batum was in the middle of the mix without incident.

He objected to Spain’s tactics afterwards, though, insisting that he Spaniards resorted to acting late with the game on the line.

“That’s not basketball,” he said, haven taken particular offense to the reaction of Rudy Fernandez after he was fouled by Ronny Turiaf in front of the scorer’s table moments earlier. “Sometimes, you have to give them a good reason to flop. And I hope I did.”

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Russia Beats Brazil On A Buzzer Beater, Spain Survives Great Britain’s Surge

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.

Kirilenko Leads Russia Past China 73-54

LONDON – Andrei Kirilenko and Aleksey Shved powered Russia past China 73-54 in the first game of the day at the Olympic Basketball Stadium.

Kirilenko led the way with 16 points on 7-for-12 shooting from the floor, 7-for-10 from inside the 3-point line. Shed had 14 and six assists. Yi Jianlian led China with 16 points and was the only player from China to score in double digits.

Russia, Lithuania Heading To London





HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – As the United States named its 12-man roster for London 2012 on Saturday, two teams earned trips to London with victories in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Caracas, Venezuela.

Russia and Lithuania, two of the favorites in the 12-team qualifying tourney, are teams Nos. 10 and 11 in the Olympic field.

In the first of Saturday’s games, point guard Alexey Shved (who looks to be NBA-bound this fall) led Russia to an 85-77 win over Nigeria, scoring 22 points and dishing out six assists. The game was tied at 26 early in the second quarter, but Russia outscored Nigeria 20-5 to close the period and led by as many as 21 in the second half.

Andrei Kirilenko added 19 points, eight rebounds and four steals for Russia, while Ike Diogu (who played two games for the Spurs last season) led Nigeria with 16 points and 14 boards. The Hornets’ Al-Farouq Aminu scored 13 points, but had seven turnovers.

Russia shot a scorching 14-for-27 from 3-point range. They were arguably the U.S. Team’s toughest competition in the medal rounds in the 2010 World Championship, losing 89-79 in the quarterfinals.

The team the U.S. beat in the ’10 semifinals was the second team to qualify for the Olympics on Saturday. Lithuania, who had a disappointing finish in last year’s Eurobasket (which they hosted), redeemed themselves with a 109-83 blowout of the Dominican Republic.

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Spain Claims Repeat Gold

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – In a competition filled with exquisite guard play, Spain got the most consistently brilliant effort from one of the world’s best in Juan Carlos Navarro on its way to repeat gold at EuroBasket 2011.

Navarro’s 27 points lifted Spain past France Sunday in Lithuania, punctuating their tournament-long dominance with a 98-85 win over Tony Parker and his crew.

Navarro’s perimeter game was complemented perfectly by the inside presence of Pau Gasol and his younger brother Marc Gasol, who took turns carrying the load for Spain throughout the competition. But it was Navarro’s relentlessness that marked Spain’s run throughout this tournament and throughout Sunday’s title game.

In a matchup with another one of the world’s most dynamic scoring guards in Parker, Navarro proved up to the task, as did his stellar ensemble cast. Pau Gasol had 17 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and three blocks. Marc Gasol added 11 points, six rebounds, two blocks and two assists. Navarro’s backcourt mate Jose Calderon finished with 17 points of his own. Serge Ibaka blocked five shots in his 21 minutes, showing during a five-minute stretch of the second quarter as Spain built a 10-point advantage that would not be surrendered.

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France, Russia Reach EuroBasket Semis

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Hometown and host-nation favorite Lithuania saved its Olympic qualifying bacon with a win over Slovenia in early action Thursday at EuroBasket 2011.

The crowd faves were just the warm up act, however, as France (as noted by my main man and NBA.com’s John Schuhmann) and Russia played their way into the semifinals with wins …

Russia 77, Serbia 67 (Box Score)

There is only one team still playing in EuroBasket that hasn’t tasted defeat in this competition. Russia has won nine straight games and will take that unblemished mark into a semifinal showdown against France. When you have the most versatile player in the competition, do-it-all swingman Andrei Kirilenko, leading the charge every night, it makes sense that Russia continues to wear down the competition. Kirilenko finished with 14 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, four steals and two blocks.

“Two years ago we played in the same phase against the same group of great players and the same great coach and we lost, as I said then, by a better team,” said Russia coach David Blatt. “We moved forward from there. We provided our players with the kind of teaching and culture it takes to build a successful national team. We got back two of our main players – Kirilenko and [Viktor] Khryapa, who didn’t play in 2009, and you saw tonight how important they are. But the story is the other players who matured and are now a higher level basketball players. It’s a sweet win, but the joy is short, because we play tomorrow in the semifinals. We’ve had a great run so far.”

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Macedonia Shocks Lithuania, Joins Spain In Semifinals At EuroBasket

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The quarterfinal round got off to an explosive (and rousing, for one country) start Wednesday, thanks to our friends from Macedonia …

(NBA.com’s John Schuhmann recapped Wednesday’s first game, Spain’s 86-64 win over Slovenia, below.)

Macedonia 67, Lithuania 65 (Box Score)

Vlado Ilievski‘s 3-pointer (off an assist from Bo McCalebb) with 11 seconds left pushed Macedonia ahead and they held on to pull off one of the most shocking upsets in EuroBasket history, knocking off host nation Lithuania before a raucous crowd in a hostile environment. Ilievski (12 points) and McCalebb (23 points) had plenty of company in the heroes corner in the Macedonia locker room after the game. Vojdan Stojanovski who didn’t miss a single shot, he was 5-for-5 from beyond the 3-point line, finishing with 15 points.

“This is a huge win for us. We are very happy,” Stojanovksi said. “I think we played very well and we deserved this win. I have to thank our playmakers because they put me in a position to have open shots. I was confident of making them. Spain will be a tough team but we have proved that we can beat good teams in this tournament.”

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Slovenia Snags Final Quarterfinal Spot

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Six teams put the finishing touches on second round play at EuroBasket 2011 Monday in Lithuania.

But there was only one quarterfinal spot remaining in Group F play …

Slovenia 67, Finland 60 (Box Score)

The directive was simple for the Slovenia, win or go home. They did exactly what had to be done against Finland, aesthetics be darned. Sure, it wasn’t one of the prettier games played in this competition. But it was a win. And those have been tough to come by for Slovenia lately. Uros Slokar turned in a near-flawless effort off the bench with 13 points, eight rebounds and no turnovers in 22 minutes to spark Slovenia. Erazem Lorbek (14 points and six rebounds) and Zoran Dragic (10 points and four rebounds) delivered as well.

“Before the game we just told ourselves to relax and think how we can enjoy the game again,” Slokar said. “Go on the floor and try to be more relaxed. I think that’s something we managed to do. Finland played good but we kept them on a low score and that’s the key for our wins. Spain is favorite against any team in this tournament, but our goals are different than theirs. We will try to win and give 100 percent to win. If that would be enough it’s great, and if not we’re still going to be happy with the result because we gave 100 percent.”

With the win Slovenia earned a date against defending champion Spain, winners of Group E. So the challenge for Slovenia remains. And they’ll have to stay focused the entire way to have a chance against Spain, something they struggled to do against Finland. It took six straight points from Lorbek to hold off a Finland rally in the fourth quarter.

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Macedonia Does It Again At EuroBasket

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Macedonia’s magical run in Lithuania continued during Day 2 of the second round at EuroBasket 2011, one of three games on the schedule in Group F action.

We’ve been talking up Bo McCalebb and his boys for a while now and they’re making it hard to stop talking about them …

Macedonia 65, Georgia 63 (Box Score)

While he is far from a one-man show, McCalebb did everything humanly possible to secure victory for Macedonia in this matchup. The final two of his game-high 27 points came with :00.2 to play in a nail-biter. McCalebb has become every bit the force for his team that Tony Parker has been for France in this competition, proving virtually unstoppable at times throughout the past nine days. McCalebb, the only player on the Macedonia roster to score more than eight points in this game, also finished with four assists and four steals.

Without Zaza Pachulia (calf injury) in uniform to man the middle, Georgia seemed completely out of sync for most of this game. Nikoloz Tskitishvili picked up the slack, finishing with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Viktor Sanikidze added 15 points and seven rebounds but also committed seven of Georgia’s whopping 20 turnovers.

They haven’t officially sealed the deal yet, but the quarterfinals look like a very realistic expectation for Macedonia at this point. Staying completely in the moment and handling the opponent at hand while not thinking about trying to make history has worked for Macedonia to this point, so there is no reason for them to look beyond Saturday’s game against Slovenia.

Russia 79, Finland 60 (Box Score)

Not every game in this competition is going to be a fair fight. And this certainly was one of those games that appeared unfair from very early on. Russia was simply better than Finland in virtually every aspect. The two-headed monster of Andrei Kirilenko (14 points, four rebounds and four steals) and Viktor Kryhapa (11 assists) led the way for powerful Russia.

Russia’s dominance inside was evident early on and executed by the likes of Timofey Mozgov, who finished with 11 points, four rebounds and two blocks. Russia outscored Finland a staggering 52-18 in the paint. Russia’s lead reached 20 points after halftime and they cruised down the stretch.

If you need an illustration of just how powerful this Russia team can be, they won going away while making just one of their 10 three-pointers. They were also careless with the ball (19 turnovers), yet they still managed 22 assists to Finland’s nine.

Greece 69, Slovenia 60 (Box Score)

Greece showed some serious finishing kick, outscoring Slovenia 25-14 in the fourth quarter to seal this extremely important win and move a step closer to making their way to the quarterfinals. Nikolaos Zisis had the big game for Greece, draining two huge 3-pointers down the stretch to help the winners finish this one off. Zisis scored a game-high 19 points and was the only player from Greece to finish in double figures. But he received plenty of help from a deep bench, including seven points and a team-high nine rebounds from Kostas Koufos.

This game wasn’t the prettiest one played in this competition, particularly for Slovenia. They never did find the right shooting touch. they made just 38 percent of their shots from the floor, and that includes a dismal 24 percent (6-for-25) effort from beyond the 3-point line. Erazem Lorbek and Goran Dragic were a combined 6-for-17 from the floor and just 1-for-8 from distance.

Long-distance shooting is essentially what won this game for Greece. They made nine of their 17 shots from long-range and nailed them down the stretch, those two from Zisis and another dagger from Antonios Fotsis to put the game away late. The very best teams in this competition have shown an ability to win games when they are clicking from deep and by going inside if they are not. Greece has the ability to do both.

*** Friday’s slate of games in Group E should be as explosive as any we’ve seen so far in this competition. Spain and Serbia, Germany and Turkey, and Lithuania and France get after each other to finish the work week. ***