Spain, Russia To Battle It Out In Semis

09.08.2012

OLYMPICS 2012

15. Andrei KIRILENKO (Russia)
Andrei Kirilenko had a doubl-double of 19 points and 13 rebounds for Russia

Russia and Spain will fight it out on Friday for a chance to play in the gold medal game at the Olympics.

The teams won their respective Quarter-Finals on Wednesday at the North Greenwich Arena in London, with Russia holding off a never-say-die Lithuania and Spain surviving in a physical encounter against a great France.

Russia got 19 points from Andrei Kirilenko and 17 from Timofey Mozgov in an 83-74 victory over the Lithuanians while Marc Gasol poured in 14 points for Spain in a 66-59 triumph over France.

"I'm thankful to win this game," Russia coach David Blatt said.

"It was not easy and we had to play our hearts out."

A player who took centre stage for Russia was Sergey Monya. He hit timely shots, finishing with 10 points, and got important rebounds.

"Our captain, Sergey Monya, has been with me from day one with the national team seven years ago, and he's never missed a day, never missed a game, and never missed an opportunity to contribute," Blatt said.

"He came up the biggest at the right time today."

Russia were clinging to a 59-55 four minutes into the fourth quarter when Monya buried a three-pointer.

The next trip down the floor, Monya struck again from inside the arc to make it 64-55.

"He's been one-on-13 (shooting) in the tournament up to now but he came up with two big shots at the right time to put us in the final four of the Olympics."

Blatt's former associate head coach at Dynamo St. Petersburg and Benetton Treviso, Kestutis Kemzura, is at the helm of Lithuania.

"Today we faced a really strong opponent," Kemzura said.

"The Russian team has been playing great basketball in this tournament, defending well and moving a lot, sharing the ball.

"We tried to take our chances and I think we fought hard, but we were maybe nervous and we turned the ball over. Playing against this team, that will cost you."

 

13. Marc GASOL (Spain)
Marc Gasol was the topscorer for Spain, who now have the chance to reach their second consecutive Olympic Final

France Come Up Short Against Spain

France went toe to toe with Spain and played some of the best, most physical defence ever seen in an Olympic game but came up short.

They held Pau Gasol to just 10 points, yet still lost.

Spain had fallen in two of their five Preliminary Round games and heard a lot of criticism for their performance against Brazil.

"Despite the past two defeats, in the locker room, the team have never been down," Spain guard Sergio Llull said.

"We try not to think too much about what is being said outside, whether it's praises or criticism.

"Mentally and physically we forgot about the past because we knew this game was a final, the winner goes through and the loser goes home.

"This is a team that has played in many finals and as we have proved today, it steps up for the big games."

Llull said he and his teammates are determined to make the most of their Olympics.

They are trying to reach the Final for the second time in a row.

"We just want to play good basketball and hopefully we can do that in the Semi-Final and Final," he said.

Tony Parker and Boris Diaw had 15 points apiece for France.

In the second Semi-Final on Friday, Argentina will face the USA.


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