Russia’s basketball squad have undergone their final warm-up game at home ahead of the European Championships in Lithuania. David Blatt’s men took on the tournament hosts in Moscow, notching up a result that bodes well ahead of the tournament start.
For the first time, the European Championship will be contested by 24 teams. The NBA lockout offers an opportunity to watch the best Euro-born players take to the hardwood for the title.
In their only friendly match on home soil before the championships, Russia faced tournament hosts Lithuania.
The home side produced an electric start securing a lead they would never relinquish much to the delight of the home crowd. 49-36 was the score at the big break.
But that was not enough for the fully-packed Khimki Arena. NBA stars Timofey Mozgov, Andrey Kirilenko and teammates kept attacking, conjuring up slick passing moves and solid defending.
On this evidence it seems Russia will once again be amongst the favorites in Lithuania, as they aim to regain the crown they claimed in 2007.
The final score was 91-76, with a repeat showdown likely on the cards sooner rather than later in the playoffs of Eurobasket 2011.
“I really liked the way we played tonight, especially in defense. We are working hard to improve it and as a result we play more aggressively and put a lot of pressure on the opponent. I think it’ll become our trademark during Eurobasket,” said Andrey Kirilenko.
With only the finalists automatically booking their spot for next year’s London Olympics, expect an all-action tournament to tip off on August 31.