Weekday Euro Ball: Russia (starring an insane AK-47)
On Tuesday and Wednesday, Russia participated in European Basketball Tour Israel 2011.
First up was Poland.
You always know that here at Living and Dying by the Jazz, you’re going to get the bestest highlights. Without further ado, here are scintillating AK highlights from Russia vs. Poland:
Depending on who you listen to, Andrei didn’t play because 1) Russian national team head coach David Blatt was resting him (according to the Russian team GM in Russian media); 2) AK was suffering from back pain, and Blatt doubted AK would play against Israel because he hadn’t practiced in 3 days (Blatt, quoted in Israeli media).
According to two different reports, the attendance for that game was either 25 or 50. So Russia vs. Poland in Israel
maybe definitely isn’t a draw, but that still blows my mind.
Also according to those two reports, the draw of the home team sent attendance soaring to a capacity 1,000 or 1,500 in Russia’s second game.
No disrespect to the Israeli team, which played well and deserved to win. It’s just…I mean, it was just Andrei freaking Kirilenko. It was highlight after highlight; every play a highlight. Some might think I’m exaggerating out of AK fandom, but watch the tape. You’ll see.
Defensively, he did what he always does. Offensively, this might have been his best game ever. It was a dunk and circus shot exhibition (circus shot > flail). He was so on that I didn’t even cringe when he shot it behind the line, and that hasn’t happened in years. Oh, and did I mention the [Israeli] TV production crew showed four different AK highlight montages during the broadcast?
Unfortunately (for Russia), Russia collapsed in a wholly spek-ta-koo-laar fashion in the fourth quarter. It was like they were the Jazz. Seriously, March 2011 was flashing before my eyes. There was one possession when the Israeli inbounder threw the ball inside to a guy down in the post, who easily scored because, literally, no one on Russia moved.
Russia made a stand in the final minutes, cutting a lead that was 20 down to 7 with a minute remaining, but too little too late. Again, just like the Jazz.
The best highlight? I can’t choose one, so here are three.
1) Behind-the-back pass from Timofey Mozgov to AK, who dunks it home.
2) Double-pump dunk by AK.
3) Remember that Earl Watson-AK-Ronnie Price double-behind-the-back play last season in the last good game before all hell broke loose? AK had a play like that on his own where he dribbled the ball behind his back coming down the lane to shake a defender and then threw the ball from his left hand behind his shoulder across the court to his teammate for the bucket. The announcers were like “Wow…bravo” and then started applauding on air.
Noam Schiller (who was live tweeting at the game)’s timeline:
In conclusion: Russia went 6-3 (1-1 without AK) in preparation games, and had a 10.1 point differential in the games, which was 4th best among all teams.
P.S. Not a sight you see often: Players singing along to their national anthem. An even rarer sight: the opposing coach singing along to the home team’s national anthem. Total feel-good moment (David Blatt is Israeli-American). Blatt was also the only one on the Russian side to get any audible applause during the intros, though AK did get a nice ovation when he left the game for good with a minute and change remaining.