Quarter Finals Women: RUS 70 - CZE 49
Russia blows out Czechs in quarterfinals
ATHENS - One team could do no wrong and the other very little right when Russia stormed into the semifinals in Olympic Womens Basketball as a surprising blowout winner, 70-49 over the Czech Republic, at Olympic Indoor Arena on Wednesday.
Russia advances to play the United States in a rematch of their World Championships final in 2002.
The replay of last years European Championships final, when Russia won by three points over the Czechs, could not have been more different on Wednesday.
Russia held the Czechs to just six points in the first quarter and never looked back while taking complete control of the game well before halftime.
Russia raised its historical record against the Czech Republic to 33-1.
Ilona KORSTIN had 16 points for the winners, Elena BARANOVA 15, Natalia VODOPYANOVA 12 and Anna ARKHIPOVA 10.
No single player scored in double figures for the Czechs, who didnt connect on a 3-point shot until late in the fourth quarter, when they had already missed 10.
Harassed throughout by the active Russian defenders, the Czechs finished shooting 18 for 51 on 2-pointers, or 35 per cent, and 2 for 17 on 3-pointers, or 12 per cent. Russia made 22 of 26 free throws (85 per cent).
From the opening tip-off, when KORSTIN broke away for a layup, Russia was more aggressive, particularly on defense.
VODOPYANOVA scored twice on cuts to the basket, forcing a Czech timeout, but when ARKHIPOVA dropped a triple and Irina OSIPOVA a short shot, the Russian lead was already 11-2. The Czechs, who had already missed four 3-pointers, scored twice inside then, but afterwards could not buy a basket. STEPANOVA and KORSTIN split an 8-0 run to finish the quarter with Russia in charge at 19-6.
Little-used Petra KULICHOVA came on and made a couple of shots to get the Czechs within 21-10, but even that was a mirage. The Russian defence forced several turnovers leading to a 10-3 run and a 33-13 lead. KORSTIN finished the first half with a nice driving layup plus the foul shot that came with it for a 37-20 Russian lead after 20 minutes.
When the second half commenced with a triple by ARKHIPOVA and continued with an 11-0 Russian run in the middle of the third quarter, there was no doubt about the outcome. The third quarter finished 56-30 and the lead topped out at 30 points, 70-40, with 2:30 to play.
Russia can now turn its attention to the semifinal date with USA on Friday, 27 August.
Elena Baranova, forward (RUS)
On the game:
"We expected a tough game, because last year we beat our opponents in the final of the European Championship. We thought they would jump on us to revenge their loss, that's why we wanted to control the rythm from the beginning and not let them play their game. Fortunately things went very well and extremely easy for us."
On the semifinal game against the U.S. team:
"I think it will be a very interesting match-up. The american team is very strong in the rebounds, so we have to be make block-outs to control the boards and to pass well the ball because they gonna play zone-press defense from the beginning. If we shoot well, we control the glass and we don't commit many mistakes, we have chances."
Ilona KORSTIN (RUS), Guard
On the game:
It might have looked like an easy game from the outside, but it was everything but that. We did not want to give the Czechs any hopes for the win.
On the coming game against USA:
We can win this game. When we lost to the United States in the past, it was by a very small margin, mainly because we were a very young team then. We have now matured, and by playing proper defense, I believe we can stand up against the big stars of the United States.
On their expectations:
In the beginning of this Tournament, our goal was to reach one of the top three places. We hope to win against the United States in the next game, to reach the Gold medal match and conquer the Gold medal.
Ivana VECEROVA (CZE), Center
On the game:
It was a very difficult game. The Russian team is very strong and bigger. We did very well in the preliminary round, but today we had a very bad day. This game was very different than the final of the European Championship last year. It was very difficult for us.
|Press conference quotes:|
Vadim KAPRANOV (RUS) - Head Coach
"We took the game seriously from the beginning, understanding the importance of playing a quarterfinal. This was the 'killing day', meaning the team losing would be out of the medal round. I would be happy if the game against the United States was the final, but it wasn't to be. Tomorrow we will have practice and decide on our game plans. But I don't think that changing my lineup will affect the style of the game, which is already decided."
Maria STEPANOVA (RUS) - Center
"The game against the United States will require us to give our maximum effort and play as hard as possible. It's a game for which I believe no one can produce any kind of forecast."
Zuzana KLIMESOVA (CZE) - Forward
"Russia did a great job and deserved to go to the semifinals. We felt tired, perhaps also a little scared in the beginning and missed some easy shots. When the margin went up for 17 points to 30, it was too hard for us to get back into the game. Russia played aggressively and pulled down a lot of rebounds. They managed to take us out of the paint, and when we started shooting from the outside our shots were off target."
Jan BOBROVSKY (CZE) - Head Coach
"Today the better team qualified. Russia shut us down from the beginning. It's a team that has played with a lot of concentration throughout the tournament, and knew what to do to get to the semifinal. In the European Championship Final last year, we were also down by several points at the half, but then we had managed to hit some big shots and get closer. But this time, it was not the case, and they were pulling away through the whole game."
Source: Athens news service