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Russia Takes Lithuania [updated with minor comic episode]

August 12, 2011

Let’s start with a behind-the-scenes look at the Lithuanian team’s trip to Moscow. When they arrived at their hotel, several members of the Russian team were there to welcome them, including…(dun dun dun)…Glasses AK.


Guess they didn’t tell the Lithuanians about Moscow’s famous traffic, though, because the game was delayed when the Lithuanian team got stuck in traffic en route to the arena.

The game was the first time that Andrei Kirilenko was playing at home [in Russia] in three years, and he got a standing O from the sold-out 5,000-strong crowd.*

*I don’t think those that get their information from English language media see it, but there seems to still be a lot of antagonism towards AK for not playing for the national team in the past two years. I’ve seen snipey comments here and there, and a few days ago when I left a comment thanking the person that uploaded a couple of Russia’s games, someone (not the uploader) responded saying “You’re happy for the upload because of Kirilenko?** Where was he the last two years for Russia? Huh? Huh? Huh?” (“Huh? Huh? Huh?” was added by me obviously, but it was that kind of tone.)

**Didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out since my user name has “jazz” in it.

Anyway, Lithuania drew first blood, and Russia’s first bucket was by Timofey Mozgov assisted by AK.

Russia’s second bucket was…you guessed it…an AK bounce pass into the paint to a streaking Mozgov for a slam dunk that rocked the rim the entire basket structure. And-1 (the real kind, not the Carlos Boozer kind).


(If this .gif isn’t moving, click here.)

I’ve said it more than once but I’m gonna say it again: AK and Mozgov are awesome as a tandem. They just click, like they’ve been playing together their whole lives. They drew 19 (AK 10; Mozgov 9) of the 29 fouls called on Lithuania and shot 22 of Russia’s 34 FTs. All 12 of AK’s free throws came in the first half. Pretty interesting (to me, anyway) that David Blatt plays AK at the 5 when Mozgov isn’t on the floor.

Random: No. 4 on Lithuania has the same tat as Marcus Camby.

Also, Masha sighting:

Loved seeing AK diving for the ball early on in the second quarter. Keep in mind this was an inconsequential, meaningless friendly match, but after he dove for the ball and didn’t get it, he launched himself off the floor to dive for it again.

Towards the end of the quarter, AK deflected a would-be pass and stole the ball, racing down the court for a dunk. Unfortunately, Masha missed it because she was texting:

Russia ended up taking this one 91-76. It was closer earlier in the game, but for the most part Russia had a double-digit lead that was at one point 20. Basketball-wise, I was kinda in awe of how Russia switches on and gets around screens. It’s so effortless and they’re in constant motion, almost like the players are gliding around on skates. OK, I’m going to stop there before I reveal the extent of my lack of knowledge on the exes and the ohs. Back to your regularly scheduled programming, i.e. irrelevant observations from moi.

By my count, Lithuania had at least 8 corporate sponsorships on their unis. Players don’t get their names on their backs, but rather the URL of some poker website.

Final thought:

Update: Not sure if I’ll get the details right as I’m going with Google Translate, but there was apparently a bit of comedy after the game. Andrei and Jonas Valanciunas were named the Players of the Game for their respective teams, which meant that they were each awarded with a fancy Swiss watch. Problem was, Andrei was already in the locker room when the announcement was made. “Under the frenzied cry, ‘Kirilenko, Kirilenko'”, AK came back on the court and apologizes for making everyone wait. The watch was presented by a member of the Russian women’s national basketball team, and she–“the envy!”–hands it to AK with a kiss on the cheek. (I’m not sure who “the envy!” referred to–the woman for getting to kiss AK or AK for getting kissed by her.)

After the presentation, AK turns around and reacts in mock horror when he sees the horde of reporters waiting to talk to him. Nevertheless, “tired team MVP” walks over to them and patiently answers their questions. (sport.ru)

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