London 2012: Russia Reaches Semis

LONDON — Russia 83-74 Lithuania

Russia reached the Olympic tournament semifinals as an independent country for the first time by topping Lithuania 83-74 in the Quarterfinals on Wednesday. Reigning Euroleague MVP Andrei Kirilenko led the winners with 19 points, 13 rebounds, 3 steals and 3 blocks. Timofey Mozgov added 17 points, ormer All-Euroleague forward Viktor Khryapa of CSKA had 12, 6 rebounds and 8 assists, Vitaly Fridzon got 11 points and his BC Khimki Moscow Region teammate Sergey Monya had 10 for Russia. Rimantas Kaukenas of Zalgiris Kaunas led Lithuania with 19 points. Darius Songaila added 15 and Mantas Kalnietis of Zalgiris had 14. A three-pointer by four-time Euroleague champion Sarunas Jasikevicius of FC Barcelona Regal got Lithuania going and former All-Euroleague forward Linas Kleiza soon gave his team a 4-7 lead. Mozgov stepped up with consecutive layups and soon capped a 9-0 Russian run with another basket. Free throws by Fridzon boosted his team’s lead to 17-10 after 10 minutes. Kirilenko kept pacing Russia with a power basket and a driving layup by Khryapa forced Lithuania to call timeout at 21-12. Songaila and Kaukenas tried to change things for Lithuania and brought their team within 25-21. Kirilenko shined with a huge dunk and a layup by Sasha Kaun of CSKA gave Russia some fresh air, 29-23. Fridzon struck from downtown but free throws by Songaila fixed the halftime score at 32-27. Kirilenko followed a tip-in with foul shots and a three-pointer by Khryapa made it a double-digit game, 44-32, midway through the third quarter. Khryapa and Mozgov extended the Russian lead, 51-37, but Lithuania found a go-to guy in Kalnietis, who got some help from Marty Pocius of Real madrid to bring their team back in the game, 54-50, after 30 minutes. Kaukenas downed a triple early in the fourth quarter for a 54-53 score but Khryapa and Monya answered from downtown to boost the Russian lead to 62-55 with 6 minutes left. Anton Ponkrashov of CSKA and Monya shined in crunch time and a three-point play by Kirilenko sealed the outcome, 77-69, in the next-to-last minute.

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