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04 Aug 2012
London 2012 , IOC News , Basketball

Knockouts in sight after dramatic day - London 2012 - Basketball

The men's Basketball competition found a new intensity on Day 8, as the race for the knockout stages stepped up yet another gear.

In the highlight of the day, Russia recovered from a huge early deficit to beat European champions Spain 77-74 and claim top spot in Group B.

In a victory that gives them a potential road to the final without facing the USA, Russia stormed back from a 20-2 Spain lead in the first quarter and a nine-point deficit in the final five minutes to snatch victory.

Spain were rampant early on as Russia failed to find a way to beat their interior defence.

Russia's primary weapon, Andrei Kirilenko, was initially reduced to a non-factor as Spain scored the first 10 points of the game and led 20-2 on Rudy Fernandez's jump-shot.

A three-pointer from Semen Antonov finally got Russia firing and there were signs of a recovery when another from Vitaliy Fridzon made it 22-11.

They trailed 40-32 at half-time, but their recovery began in the third quarter as they began on a 15-7 charge, tying it up on a dunk by Timofey Mozgov and pulling in front through Fridzon moments later.

A tough battle followed with the teams trading blows and the lead before Russia moved ahead.

Pau Gasol went to the line for Spain in the dying seconds, but could only split his free throws and from there the Spanish hopes disappeared.

Elsewhere, two days after their record win, the USA were taken all the way by a spirited Lithuania team, before eventually coming through 99-94.

The USA pulled away in the final two minutes to stay unbeaten at London 2012, but only after being given a huge scare by opponents who looked to be on a mission.

The USA came into the game on the back of their record-breaking 156-73 rout of Nigeria on Thursday night, but were in for a very different afternoon as they had to work hard.

France, meanwhile, booked their place in the quarter-finals as they held off Tunisia 73-69 for their third win in four matches.

The African champions fought hard and threatened a late comeback but had dug themselves into too deep a hole when they fell 20 points behind in the third quarter.

France took control in the middle portion of the game, scoring the final four points of the first half and then beginning the second with an 8-0 run that had them 43-27 up on Tony Parker's lay-up - and that set them up for victory.

Brazil kept up the fight for the second seed in Group B as they beat China 98-59 to improve to 3-1.

Brazil will take on world number two and European champions Spain, also at 3-1 after today's loss, on Monday in a head-to-head battle for second place in the group.

Today's result was never really in doubt as Brazil overpowered the Chinese.

When Leandro Barbosa hit a three-pointer with two and a half minutes left in the first quarter, the lead was already 17-4, and China showed little sign they could do anything about it.

Great Britain blew a 15-point lead in a poor second half as they were defeated by Australia, 106-75, while in the final game of the night Argentina made certain of their place in the quarter-finals as they cruised to a straightforward victory over Nigeria.

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