EuroBasket 2011, Bronze-Medal Game: September 18

Sep 18, 2011 by Print
F.Y.R. of Macedonia 68-72 Russia

Andrey Vorontsevich - Russia (photo FIBA Europe)History was respected, but only barely, in EuroBasket 2011's first medal game on Sunday as Russia outlasted F.Y.R. of Macedonia 68-72 after the score had been tied with under 20 seconds left. A one-handed flip-in from the baseline with 16 seconds left by Sergey Bykov of Lokomotiv Kuban proved the game-winner, before free throws from Aleksey Shved of CSKA Moscow made doubly sure. Between those points, a game-tying layup attempt for FYROM was lost when the ball slipped from the hands of Damjan Stojanovski with 10 seconds left. It was Russia's fourth EuroBasket medal since 1993, while FYROM, which had never finished higher than ninth, was left with a trip to next summer's Olympic qualifying tournament as consolation. Andrei Kirilenko led the winners with 18 points and 7 rebounds. Andrey Vorontsevich of CSKA Moscow and Khimki Moscow Region teammates Sergey Monya and Timofey Mozgov added 10 points each. For FYROM, Bo McCalebb of Montepaschi Siena shined again with 22 points. Vlado Ilievski of Anadolu Efes added 16, while Pero Antic had 13. Russia outrebounded FYROM 43 to 25, including 22 boards on offense, one of the keys to the victory.

Both teams struggled to score in the early going, as a jumper by McCalebb gave FYROM a 4-2 lead after 3 minutes. Then, Monya struck from downtown for Russia, igniting a 0-10 run that Mozgov capped with a wild put-back dunk that forced a FYROM timeout at 6-13. McCalebb and Antic rescued FYROM with free throws and a three-pointer by Ilievski got his team within 13-15. A dunk by Semen Antonov restored a 13-17 Russian lead at the end of a quarter. Mozgov followed a three-point play with an uncontested dunk to keep Russia out of trouble, 15-22, early in the second quarter. Vojdan Stojanovski and Ilievski filled a 6-0 FYROM run but Kirilenko and Monya boosted Russia's lead to 21-28. McCalebb stepped up with a driving layup, free throws and an outstanding three-point play to get FYROM within 30-33, but a corner triple by Vitaly Fridzon of Khimki mixed the halftime score at 30-36. Shved drove for a three-point play that widened Russia's difference to 30-39, matching the first half's highest lead. Russia looked to be running away until McCalebb and Antic blasted three-pointers while Gjorgij Chekovski scored twice inside to make it 42-46. Chekovski then drew Mozgov's third foul, a charge, and put himself in the path of Kirilenko, too, who came up limping. It was more evidence, if anyone needed it, that FYROM wasn't going away in this game anymore than in all its previous ones. McCalebb seconded that emotion with another of his incredible layups, but Kirilenko made a falling-down assist to Antonov in response. McCalebb was far from done, however, putting back his own miss between three Russian big men before Dimitar Mirakovski's free throws tied it up 50-50. Free throws by Vorontsevich kept Russia ahead, however, 50-52 after three quarters.

Vlado Ilievski - FYROM (photo FIBA Europe)Ilievski, who had sat down late in the third quarter with a finger injury, despite playing more minutes than any other player in the entire tournament, started the fourth with a go-ahead triple at 53-52. A quiet couple of minutes ended with Antic tipping in a basket over Kirilenko as FYROM led 55-52. After a Russia timeout, Kirilenko made offensive rebounds pay for his team with a game-tying triple. To Ilievski's step-through jumper, Kirilenko answered from downtown while Vorontsevich tipped in a miss as Russia surged ahead again, 57-60, with 4 minutes left. Russia's zone left Ilievski open for a first-pass three-pointer to tie, but Vorontsevich soared for another put-back to keep Russia up, 60-62, with 2:30 left. Fridzon got loose for a pair of layups, and when Antic matched those points, Vorontsevich jammed for a 65-68 scoreboard going into the final minute. FYROM was never going to wilt, however. Predrag Samardziski put the next offensive rebound through the hooop, got fouled, and hit the free throw for a 68-68 tie with 47.6 seconds left. After a couple of stoppages, Bykov exited a timeout, kept the inbounds pass and made his go-ahead basket from the baseline. FYROM had 15 seconds left and got the ball to McCalebb, who was surrounded by three Russian defenders. He found Damjan Stojanovski alone under the basket, but the ball slipped from his hands as he shot, letting Shved lock up the bronze medals on 2 of 2 free throws with 6 seconds left. Russia was headed home with some neckwear again!