With 26 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Russia and Brazil were tied at 72 points. Brazilian guard Marcelinho Huertas, who had sat nine minutes of the fourth quarter, drove down the left lane with two defenders on him and made a circus layup to give the Brazilians a 74-72 lead with 6 seconds remaining.
With one last chance to tie or take the lead, Aleksey Shved delivered a pass from out-of-bounds to Vitaliy Fridzon in the left corner. Leandro Barbosa was guarding Fridzon, but even after Barbosa dove to block Fridzon, the shot was already in the air and as it pierced through the net, the game was essentially over. Russia remained undefeated in Olympic Group B pool play with a 75-74 victory over Brazil.
Brazil was led by Barbosa (16 points) and Larry Taylor (12 points); but on a day when Brazil’s main weapons Huertas (8 points) and San Antonio Spurs forward Tiago Splitter (8 points) struggled, Russia’s stars shined as Andrei Kirilenko led Russia with 19 points, Denver Nuggets forward Timofey Mozgov added 18 points, and Minnesota Timberwolves rookie-to-be Shved posted 17 points and six assists, none more critical than Shved’s late 3-pointer to keep Russia in striking distance in the final minute.
Here’s the rundown.
First quarter: Brazil (BRA) 20, Russia (RUS) 15
Player of the quarter (BRA): Huertas, Splitter, Brazilian defense – Brazil played good defense in the first, holding Kirilenko scoreless and Russia to just 15 points. The combination of Huertas and Splitter combined for 10 points in the first quarter. Splitter in particular scored out of the post twice with jump hooks and finished a layup in transition.
Player of the quarter (RUS): Shved – Shved showed his good fundamental looking jumper, as he knocked down two perimeter shots fluidly, one being a 3-pointer, for five points in the first.
Second quarter: BRA 32, RUS 40.
Player of the quarter (RUS): Kirilenko, Russian defense – After being held scoreless in the first quarter, Kirilenko exploded in the second quarter with 14 points. He showed vast improvement in his game as he scored from inside and outside, while also getting to the free throw line. Russia’s team defense held Brazil to just 12 points in the second quarter.
Highlight (BRA): On one play early in the quarter, Nene Hilario (8 points, 10 rebounds) threw down a one-handed tomahawk dunk.
Spurs spotlight: Splitter didn’t play much in the second quarter, as he logged the majority of his minutes in the first quarter.
Third quarter: BRA 53, RUS 59
Player of the quarter (BRA): Barbosa – Brazil played from behind the majority of the third quarter and just as Russia took a late 11-point lead, Barbosa put his team on his back to score the last five points of the quarter.
Player of the quarter (RUS): Mozgov – Mozgov gave Brazil fits in the paint in the third, he scored eight points by getting into good position on the block and dunking, but also by grabbing offensive rebounds.
Spurs spotlight: Nene was Brazil’s best option at defending Mozgov, so after scoring two quick points in the third, Splitter didn’t see much more action as he finished the game with just 18:26 minutes of play.
Fourth quarter: BRA 74, RUS 75
Player of the quarter (BRA): Taylor, Barbosa – Huertas had a tough time defending Shved, so Brazil’s coach was forced to put Taylor on Shved in the fourth. Not only did Taylor have the speed to stay with Shved, he also provided a strong quarter of scoring for the Brazilians. Barbosa was the go-to guy for the Brazilians in the fourth quarter. Whenever they need a basket, it was usually Barbosa who they went to for the play.
Player of the quarter (RUS): Shved – The Timberwolves have a bright future ahead as Shved seems to be a very disciplined guard. He knows when to take the right shots and when to pass the ball. He was involved in the last eight points for Russia, especially when he hit a big 3-pointer in the final minute to tie the game at 72 over the longer Nene.
With the loss, Brazil falls to 2-1 in Group B pool play. They’ll play China next on Saturday, but their biggest test awaits them next Monday when they face powerhouse Spain.