Russia beat 2004 Olympic champion Argentina 81-77, with Minnesota Timberwolves teammates Alexey Shved and Andrei Kirilenko making 25 and 20 points respectively, as well as seven assists for Shved and eight rebounds for Kirilenko.
A three-pointer for Shved with 37 seconds remaining put Russia back in front by two points, before Vitaly Fridzon applied the coup de grace with a two-pointer with five seconds on the clock.
"It was that last three-point shot that did it, Denver Nuggets and Russia center Timofey Mozgov said. "Also our defence was our main strength. Argentina were hitting so many three-point shots, so we responded and did the same."
David Blatt, who has coached Russia since 2006, spoke of his pride at taking the team to a medal. "For my players to be part of history, to be role models for Russian basketball, it is a proud, proud moment," he said.
Argentina led 20-19 at the end of the first quarter, but the match changed when Russia went on a 12-0 streak in the second quarter, with the Russians keeping the upper hand for most of the match from then on.
Just as in Argentina’ s 109-83 semifinal defeat to the United States, San Antonio Spurs shooting guard Manu Ginobili was the South Americans’ top scorer, making 21 points. ""We are very angry right now," he said. "We feel a lot of remorse because we didn't do things as good as we were supposed to. We made a lot of mistakes. We let Russia stay in the game and then Shved hit three three-pointers and he decided the game."
The U.S. play Spain later Sunday in the final.
First published in RIA Novosti.
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