Russia captured their second continental championship and booked a spot in the 2008 Olympics by holding off Spain 74-68 in Sunday's final of the 2007 EuroBasket Women, but not before they nearly blew a 21-point lead.
Ilona Korstin led the way for Russia with 18 points while Tatiana Shchegoleva chipped in 14 points off the bench including the decisive lay-up with 13 seconds remaining after Spain had missed a chance to trim the margin to two points 10 seconds earlier.
Spain’s women have finally broken their final four jinx and reached the gold medal game after semi-final defeats at the three previous EuroBaskets.
If they are to win a EuroBasket title for the first time since 1993, they will have to do something the men couldn’t do three weeks ago in Madrid and that is beat Russia.
Some things don't change so quickly.
Just like in every EuroBasket in the 21st century Russia will play the finals.
Russia's goal coming into the 2007 EuroBasket was nothing less than capturing the gold medal and direct qualification for the 2008 Olympics.
The 2005 EuroBasket silver-medallists' penultimate hurdle on the way to that goal are the former Soviet Republic of Latvia, who will be Russia's opponent in Saturday's first semi-final in Chieti.
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