|05 July 2012|
OLYMPIC QUALIFYING TOURNAMENT
|Vasileios Spanoulis led the way for Greece with 27 points. |
Russia and Greece showed savvy, skill and plenty of heart in winning for the second time in a row at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament on Wednesday but Lithuania slipped up against Nigeria.
Even with the Baltic side falling, all four European teams in Caracas, Venezuela, that are taking aim at the London Games managed to clinch first place in their respective groups.
F.Y.R. of Macedonia weren't in action on Day 3 yet sealed first place in Group D when New Zealand defeated Angola, 68-64.
All three teams had 1-1 records but the men from F.Y.R. of Macedonia had the best goal differential and finished top ahead of the Angolans.
F.Y.R. of Macedonia will take on the Dominican Republic in the Quarter-Finals after the Caribbean nation was brushed aside by Russia, 84-69, in a battle for first place in Group C.
Andrei Kirilenko was sensational yet again for Russia, leading the way with 16 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists.
The David Blatt-coached Russians will take on Angola, who came in second in Group D behind F.Y.R. of Macedonia.
Russia may not have Timofey Mozgov for the Angola game after he sprained his ankle early in the clash with the Dominicans but Blatt has an in-form Sasha Kaun to throw at the Africans.
Kaun finished with 10 points and seven rebounds against the Dominican Republic.
In the most thrilling encounter on Wednesday, Nigeria overcame Lithuania, 86-80, despite another big game from Linas Kleiza.
After leading the Lithuanians past hosts Venezuela on Tuesday, Kleiza poured in 22 points but the African nation played inspired basketball with a chance to advance and stay in the hunt for London.
They got 20 points from Derrick Obasohan.
Lithuania, Nigeria and Venezuela all finished with 1-1 records in Group B but Kestutis Kemzura's side ended up in first and the Nigerians second on goal differential.
Greece, like Russia, were very impressive against Puerto Rico and won, 98-84.
Vasileios Spanoulis had 18 of his 27 points in the first half for Greece, who passed the ball with precision and shot lights out from behind the arc.
Ilias Zouros' team made 14 of 24 shots from long range.
Greece will face Nigeria on Friday in the Quarter-Finals while Lithuania will go up against Puerto Rico.
Three places for the London Games are up for grabs, so at least one European team will come up short of the goal.