Russia-Brazil Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated August 01, 2012
Just two games into Group B play, a separation is already forming between the potential medal contenders and the teams that likely won't be standing on the podium. Still, Russia coach David Blatt is not going to overlook any opponent. That's probably a good idea with Brazil on Thursday's schedule. With two of the five preliminary round games completed, Russia, Brazil and Spain remain undefeated, while Australia, China and host Britain are looking for their first wins. "I thought initially that Spain was the top team in the group," Blatt told FIBA's official website following a 73-54 victory over China on Tuesday. "After seeing Brazil play in the preparation and then seeing China play Spain (a 97-81 Spanish victory Sunday) so tough and so hard in a game that was much closer than the final score, it makes it all the more evident to me it's hard to differentiate between teams in this particular group. "Every game is a monster." Thursday is no different, as Brazil looks to improve to 3-0 in its first Olympic appearance since 1996. The Brazilians, however, will likely have to get off to a better start than they did in a 67-62 win over Britain on Tuesday, when they hung on following a four-point first quarter. Brazil, 13th in the FIBA world rankings, has been getting big production from its frontcourt of Tiago Splitter, Anderson Varejao and Nene, who are averaging a combined 30.0 points and 29.5 rebounds. Russia, though, might be one of the few teams in the tournament that can match that trio of 6-foot-11 forwards. Centers Timofey Mozgov and Alexander Kaun have totaled 37 points and six blocked shots in two games, while 6-8 forward Victor Khryapa is grabbing a team-best 8.5 rebounds per contest. "We were physical but so are other teams here," forward Andrei Kirilenko said. Brazil could have its hands full with Kirilenko, who leads the tournament with 51 points and is averaging 6.5 rebounds and 3.0 steals - tied with Argentina's Manu Ginobili for tops in the preliminary round. "He's unique," China coach Bob Donewald Jr. said of Kirilenko. "It's his cutting, it's his defense, it's his rebounding, it's his running - all of his activity." Russian point guard Aleksey Shved, who like Kirilenko will join the Minnesota Timberwolves next season, has 30 points and a tournament-high 19 assists. He'll need to continue to be at his best when he faces Brazil's Marcelinho Huertas, who's tied with Splitter with a team-best 28 points and is second in the preliminary round with 9.0 assists per game. Shved had 14 points and six assists against China, but also three turnovers. "Don't get me wrong, I love the kid. But I didn't like the way he played today," Blatt said. "Not as well as he could have and should have. He held the ball too long and I'm going to tell him that." Russia faces Spain on Saturday, while Brazil gets a shot at the 2008 Olympic silver medalist Monday.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Draymond Green: ‘Me and LeBron are friends’

Pierre-Paul won't need to wear club on hand this season

Report: Four cities remain in contention to host 2017 NBA ASG

Doc Rivers: Clippers have plan to let Paul Pierce retire as a Celtic

Another young 49er, Kaleb Ramsey, retires from NFL

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Saints GM: Drew Brees’ contract situation is not a ‘distraction’

Tim Tebow: ‘I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in’

Olympic athletes warned about Rio's 'human crap' waters

T.J. Ward: Broncos defense doesn’t care who’s playing QB

Tokyo already dealing with rising costs for 2020 Olympics

Bears first-round pick Leonard Floyd carted off practice field

Hue Jackson: Browns will give Josh Gordon a fresh start

Diamondbacks nearing Daniel Hudson trade

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

What would George Costanza have traded to get Bonds and Griffey?

Gabby Douglas can make USA Gymnastics history at Olympics

Week 3 will determine the Big Ten's reputation this season

Cam Talbot thinks the Oilers are close to making the playoffs

The new era of WWE SmackDown has liftoff

Vlade Divac: Cousins ‘most dominant player in the world’

Wild offer to make Prince's 'Let's Go Crazy' new goal song

Canucks don't dismiss acquiring player with past issues

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar ordered to pay $900K to auction house

All Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker