Invincible Russia Sail Into Semis

15.09.2011

EUROBASKET 2011

Turning Point: Seven points behind with less than two minutes to play, Milos Teodosic had an open three-pointer to pile some pressure on Russia going into crunch time, but he couldn't make it and consequently Russia had a slightly easier task in closing out the game.

Game Hero: Andrei Kirilenko finished with a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds to go with an excellent six assists and four steals.

Stats Don't Lie: Russia produced eighteen big defensive stops in the form of 12 steals and 6 blocks.



Russia chalked up a ninth consecutive win to take the last semi-final spot and preserve their status as the only unbeaten team in the tournament.

A strong performance by Andrei Kirilenko was at the heart of their 77-67 victory which means the 2007 champions will meet France in a battle to make the Final once again.

The game started at a high tempo with both teams turning the ball over three times inside the first four minutes in what was an untidy and frenetic.

While Russian coach David Blatt was visibly frustrated at the offensive execution, or lack of it, at least defensive effort around the basket was there, evidenced by three blocked shots in the period.

Two were down to Timofey Mozgov who added to his good work by throwing down a dunk as Russia moved 12-7 ahead.

Serbia meanwhile were finding the Russian defence difficult to break down with only Milos Teodosic and Dusko Savanovic enjoying any scoring success during the opening quarter as they trailed 16-12.

It became an uphill struggle when Russia scored the first seven points of the second period. Then, when Victor Khryapa found his range and sunk his second three-ball of the contest to make it 29-17, the game was in danger of drifting away from Serbia.

Dusan Ivkovic needed his team to dig deep and some good work by center Kosta Perovic shaped a critical 7-0 run as they stayed in touch at 34-27 heading to the locker rooms.

Things improved further after the re-start as Serbia rattled off 11 of the first 16 points including a three by Milan Macvan to get to within a point at 39-38 and ask questions of Russia.

But, they held their nerve and finished strongly, a spectacular block by Andrei Kirilenko and buzzer beating lay-up by Aleksey Shved allowing them to take a 54-48 advantage into the final quarter.

When Mozgov fouled out, Serbia sensed it could be their night after all but when Kirilenko got a big time lucky drop off the rim to make it 64-54, it suggested it wasn't to be and so it proved.

Teodosic had a few looks in the closing stage to sink some triples but couldn't get one to drop. Despite his 20 points, it was a mixed night for the guard who turned the ball over nine times.

Serbia will now meet Greece as they aim to keep their Olympic dreams alive.


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