Spain And Russia Stay On Winning Track

01 August 2012

4. Aleksey SHVED (Russia)
Aleksey Shved contributed 14 points in Russia's victory over China.

European teams won four of their five games at the Olympics on Tuesday.

Russia started proceedings with a 73-54 triumph over China to improve to 2-0 and France (1-1) finished things off with a 71-64 victory over Argentina.

In between, Spain (2-0) downed Australia, 82-70, Lithuania (1-1) thumped Nigeria, 72-53, and Great Britain fell to Brazil, 67-62.

Russia have hardly put a foot wrong this summer, winning all four of their games at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) and their first two in London.

"In fairness to (China) coach (Bob) Donewald, I think our team is deeper and more experienced at this high level," Russia coach David Blatt said.

"You saw as the game went along, we were able to bring that to the forefront."

Andrei Kirilenko had 16 points and Alexey Shved 14 for Russia.

Spain trailed 19-14 to Australia at the end of the opening frame but turned tables in the second quarter and raced into a 37-32 half-time lead.

The Europeans turned on the afterburners in the third quarter and outscored Australia 26-10.

Pau Gasol poured in a game-high 20 points and Rudy Fernandez added 17.

Jose Manuel Calderon, the Spain point guard, said: "We played against them in Malaga and Granada and we knew they were a tough team.

"They made life difficult for Brazil in their group opener and we knew how to play against them. In the first half, we rushed a little bit, turned the ball over stupidly.

"We spoke at half-time and we came out on all cylinders for the third quarter. We stepped up our defense and that is when we got a 15-point advantage.

"Our aim is to play better each game."

Lithuania fell to Nigeria at the OQT but were much better in London, winning 72-53.

Kestutis Kemzura's team stretched a 14-8 lead at the end of the first quarter to 29-11 midway through the second and had control of the contest the rest of the way.

"Defense was key for us," Kemzura said.

"We kept playing defense. We forced our opponents to take bad shots and tried to rebound.

"All our players were fighting and giving their best, not only in terms of points but in effort and on defense.

"Today we played as a team."

Great Britain gave Brazil fits and led for much of the game but weren't able to hold on.

They out-rebounded the Brazilians, 41-36, but 19 turnovers were costly for Chris Finch's team.

"I'm very proud of our guys," Finch said.

"Our goal in this game was to be in a position in the last four minutes to win the game.

"At that point it comes down to making plays and getting big stops, and Brazil were able to do that and consistently do that."

Great Britain still have games in Group B against China, Australia and Spain.

"We gave ourselves a chance the whole way through," Finch said.

"I'm pleased with our effort, our physicality, our game-play execution.

"I thought it was all at a high-level tonight.

"It was good to see our guys competing out there, getting the fans behind them and having a chance late in the game to beat a very good team."

France had an horrendous opener against the United States but hit back against Argentina and won, 71-64.

Tony Parker had 13 of his 17 points in the second half for the French.


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