Russia showed both weakness and power in enduring over a determined Georgia 65-58 in a European basketball championship match Thursday marked by raucous crowds.
David Blatt must have been satisfied with the way his team played during the first half. Russia’s leading 40-27 before the long break was an eloquent sign of their advantage both defensively and offensively.
However, the play turned upside down in the third quarter, when the Russians failed to contain Georgian leaders Manuchar Markoishvili and Zaza Pachulia.
The nightmare continued into the final quarter, when Kirilenko and Co. failed to score a single point in the first six minutes.
Georgia, however, failed to capitalize on Russia’s poor play and missed several opportunities to tie the game. Blatt eventually seemed to be able to wake up his charges, and Russia didn’t give their opponents a real chance in the final minutes of play.
Utah Jazz forward Andrey Kirilenko carried the day for Russia, scoring 20
Points, including a remarkable 3-point play with just two minutes left that put Russia ahead by seven.
Perhaps one thing Kirilenko would like to forget was his free throw percentage. He was only 2 of 8 from the line, while his teammates weren’t much better – 13 of 23. However, Blatt apparently knows the cure.
“We need to call in Zimbabwe and invite a voodoo doctor,” he said after the game.
Russia leads Group D with a perfect record, having now beaten neighbors Ukraine and Georgia. On September 3 they will test the group’s underdogs, Belgium.