Bronze Medal Game Women: RUS 71 - BRA 62
Kapranov ends on a high
ATHENS (Olympics) - Russia's women captured Olympic bronze on Saturday by beating Brazil to send their veteran coach Vadim Kapranov out a winner. Kapranov, 64, a former captain of the USSR men's team who led the side to European Championships glory a season ago, steered Russia to a 71-62 triumph over Antonio Barbosa's Brazil.
"This was the last competition for our coach," said Russian veteran Elena Baranova. "For me, he's the best coach. I like a couple of coaches in the US, but in Europe, definitely he is the best."
Kapranov is often seen scowling on the sidelines but Baranova revealed he is adored by the players.
"This is his mask, what you see," she said. "We love him. He is really kind. And he loves us. To give us his experience, and to help us understand basketball.
"We played for him today, and for our country and for all the Russian fans who came to the Olympics."
Kapranov was praised by United States coach Van Chancellor on Friday after Russia nearly upset Team USA in the semi-final clash before losing 66-62. Baranova indicated he was stepping down because of health problems.
"His blood pressure is jumping, so that's not good. And sometimes, when he gets nervous it hurts. He's not feeling good. So we tried not to make him nervous here (against Brazil)."
Brazil led for much of the first half but Diana Gustilina's three-pointer in the final minute of the second quarter let Russia pull even at 32-32.
Russia held a 47-46 edge after three quarters and eventually won comfortably.
Gustilina, a reserve, had 12 points to lead her side.
Kapranov's team repeatedly took offensive rebounds and punished the Brazilians with their second opportunities.
They ended up with 41 rebounds - 20 on the offensive glass - to just 28 for the South Americans.
Brazil, who are hosting FIBA's 2004 World Championships, were hoping to build some momentum but some of their players, including centre Alessandra, left the court in tears.
Brazil's Iziane led all scorers with 16 points while Janeth contributed 15.
From Jeff Taylor, PA International, Athens Exclusively for FIBA
Elena BARANOVA (RUS) Forward
On the bronze medal:
"I am not happy. I wanted the first place. The rest is nothing. I cannot be satisfied with the 3rd place. I don't like the feeling of not being first".
On the game:
"Brazil played very well. It's a tough team, a really good team with strong players that can play fast and effectively".
On the come back of Russia:
"We started up slowly. In the first half we did not play well in defense. In the second half we improved in defense and took control of the game, Brazil made some turnovers, their coach asked for two time-outs. What we tried to do, worked and the game came our way".
On the final:
"I believe that USA is going to get the gold medal with 20 points margin".
Janeth ARCAIN (AUS) Forward
On the 4th place:
"We got the 4th place in the Olympic Games and that is not bad. We tried very hard during the whole game and we had the support from our fans who lifted us even when the game was not coming our way".
On the game:
"We made a lot of mistakes and that cost us. Russia took advantage of them and reached the victory and the bronze medal. Now we are looking ahead all the way to the Beijing".
Ilona KORSTIN (RUS), Guard
On the bronze medal:
"Last night after the loss to United States we were very sad. This morning all players gathered together and we talked about this game against Brazil. We decided that we had to win. And that's why we got in to the field of play and we did everything we could in order to conquer the bronze medal. I am very happy about it. It is very important to be third in such a high level tournament. I also think that a very big part of our success belongs to our coach, Vadim KAPRANOV. I think that today his coaching was excellent and he managed to use all players. We wanted to play against USA in the finals, but since we were second in our group, we had to compete them in the semifinal."
Alessandra OLIVEIRA (BRA), Centre
On her team's loss:
"Russia is a very good team, it has a very smart coach who knows how to use his players' skills. On the other hand, I don't think that the fourth place is a failure for my team. Great teams were competing in this tournament and to rank in the top is not an easy thing to do."
Iziane MARQUES, Guard (BRA)
"We could have won this game. We were in it up to the fourth quarter, but when Russia took a three-point lead we were unable to overcome it. We had to take risks, which didn't work. It is a pity we lost."
Antonio BARBOSA, Head Coach (BRA)
"We let the game slip through our fingers. We led for three quarters, but weren't able to wrap it up with a win. But no one should forget that Brazil has a very good team, and we proved that. Anything could happen in this game for either team. Unfortunately, it did not go that way."
The Russian team representatives did not appear in the Press Conference in time and no comments were made by their part.