Russia’s Olympics overachievers met their match, as Spain prove too much at crunch time. Spain prevailed 67-59 in a sloppy yet endearing game, one in which the Spanish were able to overcome a brutal first half (20 points!), to tie the surprising Russians at 46 after 3 quarters. The Spaniards completed the improbable comeback by holding the Bears to 13 points in Q4, while burying 21 of their own.
The Raptors’ Jose Calderon was brilliant. He was 4/9 from distance, and hit both his free throws, to end with 14 points in 33+ minutes, just behind Pau Gasol’s 16 points in a few seconds more of PT. Underscoring the strange nature of this game, Jose took no shots from inside the arc. He also had as many turnovers (3) as assists, which is not a result we in Toronto are used to seeing. Regardless, he did exactly what the Spaniards needed under pressure, and sealed the win with his splendid ball-handling.
Andrei Kirilenko has been superb in this tournament so far, but will have to shoulder a large chunk of the blame for Russia’s defeat. His shooting was disappointing, and that’s being kind – 1/7 from inside the arc, and 1/6 from distance. Even his free-throw shooting was off at 5/10. He did contribute 3 blocks, 2 steals, and 8 boards, so there was nothing lacking in his quickness and anticipation, but to shoot so poorly in such an important game will no doubt eat away at him for much time to come. Sasha Kaun led the Russian attack with 14 points on 7/10 shooting.
The statistical differences between the two teams was so close, you could throw a blanket over them, as the old horse-players would say. Spain had 1 more rebound (37-36), and 2 few turnovers (11-13), and both teams had 5 steals.
Spain has advanced to the game and opponent they wanted – Gold vs. U.S.A. Watch this space for our preview.
Brian Boake is a staff writer for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.