Russia knew that the Great Britain Men’s squad will be playing inspired basketball in front of their home-town crowd, but they managed to take the fight out of the right away.
Led by superstar Andrei Kirilenko, Russia leaned on a strong first-half performance to score a dominating 95-75 win over host Great Britain in the opening day of the men’s basketball competition of the 2012 London Olympics on Sunday night.
Kirilenko, who recently inked a new NBA contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves, played with a lot of sense of urgency as he erupted for 35 points on 13-for-15 shooting from the field for Russia, who had a huge second quarter that completely gave them momentum.
After building a five-point lead at the end of a see-saw battle in the first period, Russia outplayed the Brits in the second period to build a comfortable 49-34 lead with Kirilenko scoring nine points in the quarter.
Great Britain managed to pull within ten points halfway through the third period, but Kirilenko and the rest of the Russian squad was simply too much for Great Britain as they led by as much as 22 points en route to a morale-boosting win.
Aleksey Shved, who likewise inked a pact with Wolves in the NBA, also had a share of the spotlight, scoring 16 points to go with 13 assists, while Vitaliy Fridzon chipped in 14 markers for Russia, who earned a ticket to London through the 2012 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament earlier this month.
Luol Deng, on the other hand, had 26 points and seven rebounds, Pops Mensah-Bonsu racked up 22 points and nine rebounds, while Joel Freeland finished with 13 points and 10 boards for Great Britain.
Great Britain, who was given a spot as the benefit of hosting the 2012 Games, played in the men’s basketball competition for the first time since the 1948 Games that was also hosted by London.
Up next for Russia in Group B action is China, while Great Britain faces Brazil on Tuesday.