By Milan Lazarevic and Oz Porat
What Russian team did yesterday rarely can be seen even in pathetic teenage movies, when one team is losing almost whole game, and then ?touched by God?s hand? suddenly can not miss, and in last second they surprisingly win it in style.
But, today, 1 500 people had exactly the same scene on the court in Chekov, Moscow region. This was real propaganda of basketball, as a game, and proof that there are no many more emotional games then this one is.
ITALY - RUSSIA 72:76 ( 21-19, 23-11, 20-24, 8-22 )
Italy missed amazing chance to make fantastic result and almost eliminate home team and one of the biggest favorites for title. Everything functioned like ?Swiss watch?. Belinelli was shooting like in dreams; they opened game with 4 triples in a row and surprising result 12:3 announced that everything can happened. Russians were in real shock, but they had enough strength to almost equalize till the end of the first quarter (16:15).
But what to say for second period. Italy opened again fantastically second quarter with series 12:0 (33:19) and continued to play little games with Russians. Culmination was 26th minute and +21 (58:37) for Italians ? but then? the end?
Till the end of 3rd quarter Russians made series 17:6 and in last period simply came back to life.
Pashutin tried everything, he used 9 players in rotation ? and did it?
Italians scored only 3 points in first 7 minutes of last period ? enough for Russians to take a lead 68:67. Last 2.5 minutes teams opened totally equalized. But then, Sokolov with super important block on Lechthaler and lay-up before that + Fridzon for 3 when it was the most important and everything was over. Great celebration for Russians who were losing by 21 pts only 14 minutes till the end?
ITALY: Belinelli 24, Antonutti 13, Fattori 11, Marino 4, Vitali 7
RUSSIA: Fridzon 18, Ponkrashov 11 (9 rebounds), Shabalkin 11 (8 rebounds), Komarovskiy 11, Sokolov 10, Vyaltsev 10
ISRAEL ? GREECE 60:51 (14-14, 20-14, 18-18, 8-5)
Israel opened the second phase on the right foot after it was the first to beat Greece in the tournament. The "Eliyahu duo", Lior and Elad, were again the main players in the Israeli side, with good minutes by Kazarnovski and Ben Shimol.
In the Greek side the scoring was quite balanced between the players with Sfeikos, Milosevic and Papanikolau on top.
Israel was more focused at the start of the game and was already ahead 10-3 after 6 minutes. Good minutes by Papanikolau with 7 points in a row were enough for a Greek comeback to a 14:14 tie at the end of the quarter. Lior Eliyahu dominated the paint in the second quarter and after a small lead for Greece it was again Israel to be on top with 34-28 in the break.
Israel started to open the gap in the second half with more points by Eliyahu but Gut then Greece made a 7-0 run. 5 points in a row by Elad Eliyahu gave Israel the lead 52-46 at the end of the quarter. The last quarter was an offensive catastrophe after both teams "powered up" their defense and the result of this was an 8-5 score in the whole quarter, but it was enough for Israel to get another win and to make half of the way to the semifinals.
ISRAEL: L Eliyahu 20, E Eliyahu 15, Kazarnovski (8 reb) Ben Shimol (8 reb) and Nir 6 each, Farhi 3, Greenboim and Hanuki 2 each.
GREECE: Sfeikos 12, Milosevic and Papanikolau 11 each, Magkounis and Printezis 5 each, Vougioukas 4, Sakota 2 and Kalaitzidis 1.
LATVIA - SERBIA & MONTENEGRO 53:73 ( 20-24, 8-13, 10-13, 15-23 )
SCG continues with ?demolishing mission? in quarterfinal round. Next game with Lithuania will be possible projection of finale game and in that game it will be seen real picture of current strength of both sides, even both teams came here without several super stars.
In match with Latvia, SCG used again main weapon ? defense. Maybe the best center on whole competition, Berzins, scored only 2 pts (11 rebounds) for 31 minutes. Latvians depends a lot on him, and when he was stopped everything was over. Trilling Pekovic ? Tripkovic ? Bogdanovic gave this win to SCG. Pekovic was the best in team with 16 pts, 11 rebounds and 2 blocks and 2 steals. Tripkovic added 17 pts
LATVIA: Gulbis 16, Cavars 10, Patmalnieks 10, Sirsnins 6
SERBIA & MONTENEGRO: Tripkovic 17, Pekovic 16 (11 rebounds), Bogdanovic 14, Maras 7, Ratkovica 9
LITHUANIA - FRANCE 87:65 ( 13-13, 26-34, 25-7, 23-11 )
If someone thought that Lithuania was so dominate in an easy group then this win will shut up them nicely. Simply, these kids are so good, and solid French team looked totally lost, especially in second half when they looked on themselves.
Maybe the biggest quality of this team is that they always have someone new who will explode and bring join. This time that was Seibutis, before that Maciulis, etc.
Bookies offered handicap on this match +13.5 on France, but Lithuanians won even that result.
Crucial period could happen in last 3 minutes of second quarter when French team made 15: 8 series and opened second half with 47:39.
Second half was ?rhapsody in Green? ? without any wrong move ? pure song?
Series 23:4 from Lithuanians simply destroyed French team at the beginning of third quarter and simply decided a winner. France really looked lost, without compass. Last quarter was just a matter of routine.
LITHUANIA: Seibutis 27, Maciulis 18, Jomantas 15, Truskauskas 13, Alijevas 8
FRANCE: Mipoka 10, Bendriss 9, Corre 8, Amagou 9, Larrouquis 9