Russia and Brazil offered the best game of the 2012 London Olympics so far. Most of the preliminary basketball games have been blowouts, but not this one. From start to finish, the game went back-and-forth and you’ll never see a better final minute of action in any Olympics hoops game.
It started with a turnover by Brazilian point guard Marcelo Huertas that gave the ball back to Russia with 44 seconds left and down by three. Russia guard Alexey Shved, who will play for the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2012-13, tied the game at 72 with a clutch 3-pointer from the wing.
After a timeout, Huertas atoned for his earlier mistake and put Brazil ahead 74-72 with six seconds left on a clever off-balance scoop shot off a screen from Nene, the starting center for the Washington Wizards.
Russia coach David Blatt, who is an American-Israeli, drew up a beautiful sideline play that set up the game-winner. Shved inbounded the ball to a cutting Vitaly Fridzon, who was able to launch a 3-pointer despite being knocked off balance by Brazilian guard Leandro Barbosa.
Barbosa, who played for the Toronto Raptors last season, may have been trying to foul Fridzon before the shot, but the Russian foiled that plan and buried the dagger 3-pointer despite having his feet taken out by a diving Barbosa. Fridzon gave Russia a 75-74 lead with four seconds left. Brazil had one last desperation heave at the buzzer, but Barbosa’s shot hit the backboard and never had a chance of going in. Russia survives and stays undefeated with a one-point victory.
Andrei Kirilenko, who signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves, led Russia with 19 points. Tim Mozgov (Denver Nuggets) had 18 and Shved finished with 17. Barbosa led Brazil with 16 points.