Olympics 2012 – Preliminary Round Group B – Game 1: Russia 95, Great Britain 75 (Quickcap)
It was close for a little while, and then not.
Interestingly enough (though perhaps not surprising), John Amaechi was one of the two commentators calling the game. Apart from saying that AK was “a good man” and that it’s funny AK is called “Lenka,” which means “Little One” in the NBA (must’ve been back when AK was new in the league?), Amaechi broke down AK’s game thusly:
“He’s amazing. One of the things about him is that when you think you’ve got the ball protected far away from him as a defender, he just reaches in and gets it anyway. Remarkable athleticism, long arms, and great timing.”
AK’s line: 35 points on 14-17 shooting, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, and 3 blocks in 35 minutes. If I recall correctly, AK was only on the bench for three brief stints of 30 seconds each at the end of the first, second, and third quarters, and came out of the game for good with four minutes remaining in the fourth.
His 35 points were the most he’s ever scored for Russia, including junior teams. His previous high of 34 points was at the age of 18 at the European Championship for Young Men in 2000 (13-14 shooting in 23 minutes).
An inordinate number of game pics were just of AK dunking or scoring while his defender(s) helplessly looked on:
AK’s past (CSKA), present (Russia), and future (Minnesota Timberwolves) teammate, Alexey Shved, scored 16 points and dished out 13 assists in his first Olympic game. Many of his 13 assists were to AK for dunks and alley oops.
Point guard to power forward for easy buckets. Guess what comparison started getting bandied about:
After the game, Shved joked, “I passed every ball to [Andrei] Kirilenko, because we’re a duo. All Minnesota players feel special! Getting ready for the next season. But to be serious, it just happened this way. I had the ball, and he was open. We got used to playing together in CSKA. He scores, I’m passing the ball. It works great.” (Rush’n Hoops)
While Blatt famously compared AK to a “wild horse” last year at Eurobasket, AK had a different animal in mind:
Love the FIBA tradition of both teams gathering at center court after the game to shake hands and applaud the fans:
Note: Half of the Russian national team (6-12) comes from one club team, CSKA Moscow. Would’ve been seven if Andrey Vorontsevich weren’t injured.
Next up: Game 2 vs. China.