Upset? I don’t really think so, but it’s still a big, unexpected, win. The 2012 Russian Olympic basketball team is not your average underdogs. They got the talents, they got the experience, they got the team , and most of all they don’t have losses so far in the 2012 London Olympic games. If you were to ask me what team competing in the Olympics would go undefeated through the preliminary rounds aside from the obvious pick in USA, I would have gone with Spain. Unfortunately, I would’ve been wrong. Russia is currently the only team on their side of pool play that is undefeated and has joined Team USA with a 4-0 record in the Olympics.
Much like Team USA, Russia has some inconsistencies, but still manage to win games. Some games they blow out their opponent, much like the 20-point victory over Great Britain, and some games they have to gut one out, much like today’s victory over #2 world ranked Spain. Despite being obviously over matched with the size difference, Russia still found a way to pull off a 77-74 victory over the Gasols and the Spanish Olympic basketball team.
Russia’s starting center in Alexander Kaun is 6 foot 11 and joining him in the front court is newly signed Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrei Kirilenko, who’ll be making his NBA return this season, who stands at 6 foot 9. Going up against two seven footers in Marc Gasol and Pau Gasol, it seems as if Spain would be to lengthy inside for Russia to stop them. It seemed so that way through the first quarter as Spain took control of the game as soon as they could as they opened up a 28-11 lead to end the 1st quarter. Kaun only finished with 1 point and Andrei Kirilenko finished with 7 points after torching China in Russia’s last game with 35 points. Another Timberwolves new member, Alexey Shved, who had 16 points in 13 assists against Russia, had 0 points and 0 assists today against Spain.
On this day, however, Russia didn’t need the same players from the last game to pull off a victory (not a blow out, but still a victory nonetheless). In the 2nd and 3rd quarter of the game, Russia started coming back as they would eventually take a 3-point lead heading into the final quarter and would eventually win by that same margin at the end. Coming off the bench, guard Vitaly Fridzon scored 24 points on 9 for 15 shooting, including 2 triples to lead the Russians to their fourth victory in the Olympics.
Point guard, Anton Ponkrashov, who starts the game together with Shved, had 13 points and dished out 11 assists for a double-double. Fellow starter, forward Viktor Khryapa, who played in the NBA for four years with the Portland Trail Blazers and Chicago Bulls, had 12 points and pulled down 5 rebounds as well. Off the bench big man Timofey Mozgov of the Denver Nuggets chipped in with 12 points and 9 rebounds going up against two of the best big men in the NBA today.
Spain looked like they were ready to hand Russia their first loss of the Olympics while holding a huge lead over the Russians. Unfortunately for them, it was the other way around as Russia handed Spain their first loss in the 2012 London Olympics. Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol led the charge with 20 points, and guard Rudy Fernandez and Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol each had 10 points starting for Spain. Notable Spanish NBA players such as Serge Ibaka and Jose Calderon both had only 2 points.
Russia will be tipping off the final preliminary games against Australia. Spain will be taking on another 1-loss team in Brazil, who just defeated China 98 to 59 today.