Spain rallied to defeat Russia 67-59 on Friday, securing a trip to the 2012 Olympic finals against the dominant United States of America squad for the gold medal.
Leading 17-14 early in the second quarter, Russia extended their advantage over Spain with a 10-0 run capped off by back-to-back 3-points from Sergey Monya to put Russia up 27-14 halfway through the period. Spain then made a few baskets to cut the deficit to 31-20 at the end of the first half. The Federation only allowed nine points in the second quarter and limited the Spaniards to shoot just 21 percent in the first half.
However, the game took a drastic change in the third period when Spain started making their shots. Trailing 40-31 at the 6:08 mark in the third, Spain rallied and closed within 44-41 on Pau Gasol’s only 3-pointer of the game, a shot he celebrated by throwing three fingers on both hands.
After a turnover by Russia, Pau slammed in a Felipe Reyes missed layup to bring Spain within one point.
Russia scored another bucket, but Jose Calderon ended the period with a 3-pointer for Spain and leveled the score 46-all heading into the final 10 minutes of play.
Calderon’s trey with 7:22 in the fourth quarter gave Spain their first lead, 51-49. Calderon then hit another trifecta two minutes later to put Spain up 58-50.
In the meantime, Russia fell apart. After committing just three turnovers in the first half, they had eight in the first 15 minutes of the second half.
Both teams scored nine points down the stretch as Spain fought back for a crazy 67-58 victory.
Pau powered Spain over the Russians with a double-double performance of 16 points and 12 rebounds (both game-high’s), while shooting an impressive 50 percent (5-of-10) from the field. Calderon added 14 points and a team-high three assists in the contest, Rudy Fernandez and Marc Gasol chipped in with 11 points each.
Alexandre Kaun shot 70 percent (7-of-10) overall in the game for a team-high 14 points, while Anton Ponkrashov and Andrei Kirilenko both added 10 points apiece for Russia. The other two starters, Alexey Shved and Viktor Khryapa each scored a basket.
Russia’s reserves outscored the opposition 21-11, but Spain won the battle on the boards by a 34-30 margin.
Russia will play Argentina for the bronze medal on Sunday at 6:00 AM (ET)
With the victory, Spain advances to the Olympic finals, and will play the USA for the gold medal on Sunday at 10:00 AM (ET).