LONDON (AFP) –
Vitaliy Fridzon sank a 3-pointer from the left corner with four seconds remaining to give Russia a dramatic 75-74 victory over Brazil on Thursday in a battle of Olympic men’s basketball unbeatens.
Fridzon took the inbounds pass, turned and fired his shot as Brazil’s NBA standout Leandrinho Barbosa dove into Fridzon’s legs, leaving both men sprawled on the floor watching as the ball went through the hoop and the crowd screamed.
“Wins like this give the team a lot of confidence,” Fridzon said. “We showed that we will never give up.”
In the tension-packed final seconds, NBA-bound point guard Alexey Shved hit a jumper and a 3-pointer to pull Russia even at 72-72 with 26 seconds remaining.
But Marcelinho Huertas drove to the basket and flipped in a layup over a defender with 6.1 seconds remaining to give Brazil a 74-72 lead
“It was a crazy shot,” Fridzon said. “But we kept cool and we knew that we would get our chance.”
Brazil’s basket only set the stage for Fridzon’s game winner.
“I just went with the best option we had,” Russian coach David Blatt said. “Executing it is something else. Fridzon made the coach look good.”
“Coach said in the last timeout, ‘If anybody has the chance to shoot, do it,’” Fridzon said. “I had the chance, I did it and it went in.”
Andrei Kirilenko scored 19 points to lead Russia while Timofey Mozgov added 18 points and Shved finished with 17 as the Russians improved to 3-0 to keep the Group B lead.
Brazil, which fell to 2-1, was led by 16 points from Barbosa and 12 by Larry Taylor.
“We should learn from this,” Brazil’s Marcelinho Huertas said. “They hit a very tough shot. Maybe he shoots this shot 10 times and he would never hit it again.”
Russia led 40-32 at half-time and throughout the third quarter but Barbosa made a 3-pointer to pull the South Americans within 59-53 entering the fourth quarter.
Brazil began the fourth quarter with a 10-4 run to pull even at 63-63, Barbosa closing out the run by dribbling around one defender and shooting over another for the equalizer.
NBA big man Nene Hilario pushed Brazil on top for the first time in the second half at 66-65 by making two free throws with 3:40 to play.
Taylor added a layup and Barbosa followed with another to give Brazil a 70-65 edge with 2:25 remaining.