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Eurobasket Bronze Medal Game: Russia vs. Macedonia

September 19, 2011


10 wins in 11 games…Russia’s Eurobasket journey ended on a happy note with its defeat of Macedonia in the bronze medal game.

David Blatt rode played his wild, beautiful horse to victory. Whether it was due to the importance of the game (a loss would mean going home without a medal) or because Victor Khryapa was out (for reasons unknown to me), AK played the entire first half and didn’t come out of the game until 4:12 in the third quarter. 31 seconds later, he was on the court again.

As with Russia’s first game against Macedonia in Round 2, this game was a close one. Russia took the lead midway through the first quarter and held onto it through three, but Macedonia took the lead on its first bucket in the 4th. AK scored Russia’s first points of the quarter on two consecutive threes with 6 minutes left, giving Russia a one-point lead. Neither team was able to get more than 3 points ahead, and the game was tied at 68-all with 20 seconds remaining.

Russia’s Sergei Bykov scored on a leaner while falling down with 15 seconds left; Macedonia missed on the other end; Russia’s Alexey Shved drew a foul and hit both FTs with 6 seconds left to give Russia a 4-point lead; ball game.

AK’s line: 18 points (9 from downtown), 7 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 block in 38:09. Andrei was also Game MVP.

David Blatt, post-game:

I was planning on winning this game. Not because I disrespected F.Y.R of Macedonia, which I respect greatly, not because I was over-confident but because I knew in my heart that the path that we followed in this tournament was so correct, so true, that only a good result could end this story. My players were so dedicated to the goal. They were happy to be together and play together. I want to thank all my players, who followed me. They have honored me by winning two medals in the last three EuroBaskets. We have worked very hard to do it. We have won 10 games and lost just once and that’s a fantastic achievement. It’s almost as good as the tournament. I couldn’t be prouder. (EB2011)

This is just the best kind of moment (AK and David Blatt):

AK was also named to the Eurobasket All-Tournament team along with Tony Parker, Pau Gasol, Juan Carlos Navarro (tournament MVP), and Macedonia’s Bo McCalebb. They didn’t announce the players that made the team beforehand, so we got to see a pretty great reaction from Andrei’s teammates when they called his name.

Random observations from the medal ceremony:
1) Two days ago I was talking about how AK, having spent nearly a decade under the tutelage of Jerry Sloan, was one of the few players in Eurobasket to keep his jersey tucked in. Check out who’s the one player that went to the medal ceremony with his shirt tucked in…

2) Also, for whatever reason AK was the only member of the Russian team (coaches and trainers included) that was wearing a shirt that said “Russia” in Russian. Everyone else was wearing shirts that said “Russia” in English.

Now that Eurobasket is over (sob), maybe I can get the Russian national anthem out of my head. It’s been stuck in my head for three days…

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