CHAMPIONS OF EUROPE!

16.09.2007

By David Hein

J.R. Holden's jumper with 2.1 seconds left secured Russia their first-ever EuroBasket title with a thrilling 60-59 victory over reigning world champions and hosts Spain.

Pau Gasol had a chance to win the game at the buzzer but his mid-range jumpshot went in and out, leaving Spain to collect their sixth European silver medal.

Jon Robert Holden (Russia)
It was J.R. Holden who delivered the final blow for Russia, hitting a jumper with two seconds left.
Andrei Kirilenko collected Most Valuable Player honours for the tournament after collecting 17 points, five rebounds, two assists, one blocked shot and a steal with 59 seconds remaining.

That swipe led to a basket by Nikita Morgunov to pull Russia to within 59-58 with 43 seconds to play.

Holden grabbed his own steal with 28 seconds left against Gasol in the post.

The American-born guard shook himself open and launched a long jumper which hit the rim and came back down in.

The crown was Russia's first ever after the Soviet Union won 14 European gold medals. It was also their third medal overall following silver in 1993 and bronze in 1997.

Spain's silver medal goes with those from 1935, 1973, 1983, 1999 and 2003.

Holden finished with eight points while Aleksey Savrasenko scored 10 points and Victor Khryapa collected seven points, 12 rebounds, four assists, three steals and a blocked shot before fouling out with four minutes to go.

"Hopefully this will be the first of many titles. Spain are a great team, but we just played really well tonight," said Kirilenko. "We made Spain nervous and we played as a team. I might be the MVP but it's been a team effort all the way."

Gasol finished with 14 points, 14 rebounds, three assists and three blocked shots but the NBA superstar also missed five of eight foul shots in the fourth quarter (5-of-12 overall) and committed five turnovers.

"You must understand that today is a very sad day for us. I admit I wasn't at my best. But I take responsibilty for that," Gasol said. "On the last shot, I thought I saw the ball going in, maybe I should have taken another step forward."

Jose Calderon scored a team-high 15 points while Jorge Garbajosa added eight points and six rebounds.

While Russia started cold, the Spaniards got the crowd into the game with the three-ball.

Rudy Fernandez opened the scoring with a trey and Calderon followed suit with two triples

José Calderón (Spain)
José Calderón delivered for Spain with 15 points but will have to settle for silver.
in opening a 15-4 lead midway through the first period.

The Russians missed 11 of their first 13 shots - including five three-pointers - as they failed in their attempt to match the hosts from outside.

Sergey Monya did knock down a trey but Marc Gasol's five foul shots and Carlos Cabezas's buzzer-beating jumper re-established the 11-point advantage - 22-11 - after one period.

After falling behind 25-13, Russia buckled down on defense in holding Spain scoreless for more than three minutes and cutting the deficit to 25-19.

The Spanish bombers struck again though as threes by Calderon, Carlos Jimenez and Pau Gasol kept Pepu Hernandez's team ahead 34-25.

The Russians again held Spain scoreless for three minutes and fought to within 34-31 at half-time on Anton Ponkrashov's foul shots with six seconds in the half.

Spain drew a number of fouls early in the third period and found themselves in the bonus with 6:51 to play in the quarter.

They failed to take advantage of it until Kirilenko was charged with this fourth foul and had to be taken out at the 2:32 mark of the third. Jimenez's two foul shots made it 49-41.

Russia refused to give up and continued to work hard defensively and Khryapa's trey had Russia down just 49-46 going into the fourth.

Zakhar Pashutin tied the game at 49-49 with a long bomb and Holden gave Russia their first lead 51-49 on a driving lay-up with 9:02 left.

Spain eventually pulled away on Pau Gasol's inside basket for a 59-54 lead but Gasol missed the chance for a three-point play and Kirilenko came back down to hit two foul shots with 1:17 left to set up the last minute heroics.


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