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2012 London Olympics Men’s Basketball Quarterfinals: Russia vs. Lithuania
- Updated: August 7, 2012
Start time: 9:00 a.m. Eastern Wednesday, August 8.
Russia (4-1, #1 Group B) vs.
Lithuania (2-3, #4 Group A)
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Russia was the surprise winner of Group B, toppling both Brazil and Spain and blowing out Great Britain and China. The Russians would be unbeaten if not for a a buzzer-beater by Australia’s Patty Mills in their final preliminary game on Monday. Lithuania had a much tougher draw, losing to Argentina, France, and the United States.
KEY PLAYERS- LITHUANIA: Former Missouri forward and current Toronto Raptors reserve Linas Kleiza has been the key cog on this Lithuanian squad, averaging 18.8 points per game and shooting 52 percent from the field. His Raptors teammate Jonas Valanciunas was the No. 5 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft and is expected to make a huge impact when he joins the Raptors next season. ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla has said that Valanciunas would have been the second overall pick behind Anthony Davis had he come out this year. Point guard Sarunas Jasikeviciusis Lietuva’s emotional leader and also spent time in the NBA, as did former Wake Forest star and Dallas Mavericks forward Darius Songaila. Martynas Pocius spent time at Duke, and sent a message to his former coach, dropping 8 points and 6 assists on his former coach on Saturday.
KEY PLAYERS- RUSSIA: Russia is led by former Utah Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko, current Denver Nuggets center Timofey Mozgov, and sharp-shooting guard Vitaliy Fridzon, who drilled a crazy, falling-down game-winning three with four seconds left to beat Brazil, 75-74, in the third game of the Olympics. Fridzon scored 24 points in the Russians’ win over Spain. Former Kansas Jayhawks center Sasha Kaun is another familiar face.
KEYS TO THE GAME: Lithuania will look to use stingy defense and timely scoring to dispatch the Russians. It wouldn’t be a shocker if Lithuania pulled the upset, although Russia is more talented from 1 to 15. Both teams lean on the leadership of their guards, Russia with Vitaliy Fridzon and Lithuania with Linas Kleiza.
PREDICTION: Russia 85, Lithuania 75. This may be one of the toughest games to predict as the Baltic rivals play similar styles. Russia got the better of Lithuania in the European championships in 2011, but the Lithuanians have had a much better Olympic history. The deciding factor may be Vitaliy Fridzon and his spectacular play down the stretch of games.