Blatt's Russia shocks Spain to win Eurobasket

Holden scored with two seconds remaining Sunday to give Russia the coveted prize by beating Spain 60-59.

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September 17, 2007 09:37
2 minute read.
blatt david 88

blatt david 88. (photo credit: )

Jon Robert Holden scored with two seconds remaining Sunday to lift Russia over Spain 60-59 in the final of the European Basketball Championship. Holden stripped Spain center Pau Gasol with 27 seconds to play then pump-faked before his jump shot bounced high and in for the win. Gasol's jumper at the buzzer rattled out as time expired. Crown Prince Felipe presented the Russian players, led by their American-Israeli coach David Blatt, with gold medals in front of the capacity crowd of 15,500 that hoped world champion Spain could win the title on its sixth try. Utah Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko led Russia with 17 points as the Russians won their first European title in 22 years. Kirilenko was named MVP of the tournament. Jorge Garbajosa's 3-pointer put Spain in front after Russia had led for the first time when the American-born Holden made a layup at 9:02 to make it 51-49. But Gasol struggled from the foul line in the last five minutes _ making only 4-of-9. His last miss left the hosts leading 60-54 with 1:48 to play. With 59 seconds to go, Kirilenko stole the ball from Carlos Jimenez to set up Nikita Morgunov as Russia narrowed the deficit to 59-58. Kirilenko spent some time on the bench earlier in the game because he had four fouls. But before that, the Utah Jazz forward kept Russia in the game on successive plays in the third quarter, setting up Victor Khryapa for a reverse layup, blocking forward Felipe Reyes' dunk and making a 3-pointer to cut it to 43-39 with 4:12 to go. Russia, which outscored Spain 26-10 in the post, last won the European title when it was still the former Soviet Union. In the bronze-medal game, Ksistof Lavrinovic scored 19 points to lead Lithuania over defending champion Greece 78-69. Lithuania also qualified for next year's Beijing Olympics by finishing third. Nikolas Zisis scored 23 points to lead Greece, which advanced to next year's pre-Olympic qualifying tournament. Lithuania guard Sarunas Jasikevicius was upset with playing on each of the last three days. "There's got to be some kind of respect for the team that finishes first in the group," the Golden State Warriors guard said. "No disrespect to Russia, but this is the reason we're not in the final. This is not right." Greece coach Panagiotis Giannakis agreed that his team wasn't at its best because of the scheduling. "The competition has to be equal, that's all," Giannakis said. "You can't play one team with 24 hours rest and another with 48 hours." Earlier, Slovenia also joined Germany and Croatia in the pre-Olympic qualifying competition by beating France 88-74. Tony Parker led France with 31 points. His jump shot near the end of the third quarter put France ahead 57-51, but Lakovic led Slovenia on a 21-4 run. "We were looking for some stability and to try to go to the Olympics and now we are back to zero," Parker said. "It's kind of tough. We just have to use this as experience." Dirk Nowitzki scored 31 points and pulled down 12 rebounds to give Germany an 80-71 win over Croatia in another consolation game.


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