Only USA and Serbia have averaged more points per game than New Zealand’s 84.8. Only Turkey, the USA and Lithuania have let up fewer than Russia’s 69 PPG. Something has gotta give. I think it’s Russia’s D. Prediction: New Zealand 78-71 Russia.
-Mozgov with a strong move plus the foul. Knicks fans everywhere rejoice. The next step on their road to recovery: signing Kirk Penney. He has three of New Zealand’s 10, which is three more than Russia’s 7.
-New Zealand has no excuse not to be stylish with Abercrombie & Fitchett on the floor.
-Strange to see New Zealand run the shot clock to zeroes. That’s not a good sign for the Kiwis early. They’re not getting the shots they want and not sinking them when they do: 1/7 so far from beyond the arc. Russia not much hotter at 0/6. The tradition of ugly games continues here in the dome, but at least this one’s staying close at 13-11 (New Zealand ahead).
-David Blatt has had his Russians in a man-to-man the entire game and it’s paid off. The question is, will he switch to his vaunted zone in hopes that New Zealand stays cold? It’d be a risky move, but the deficit will dictate what happens. Right now they trail 15-13 with three quarters to play.
-No question Kirk Penney could play in the NBA at this point. But it’s tough to get looks when you’re with the New Zealand of the NBL. He just drilled a three from the corner. I’m going to with .3 seconds. That’s how long you have to get a hand up once the ball’s lodged in his palms.
-Big slam from Andrey Vorontsevich. I really can’t wait to see how his role develops on CSKA Moscow next year. He really came into his own toward the end of the season and he’s been strong so far in the worlds (7.6 points, 6 rebounds). He has a lot to learn from Siskauskas’ and Khryapa’s games. If he falls somewhere in between then he’ll be tough to stop.
-Kirk Penney shoves a defender off with the shot clock at :03 and he’s whistled for his third foul of the night. With New Zealand down 29-23 with 3:00 left in the half, that’s not a good look for NZL.
-Sasha Kaun is clearly the most talented big man out here. I love Pero Cameron and Casey Frank as much as the next normal person, but they could really benefit from some length to keep those balls alive and get their guards more shots.
-Here we go! Vorontsevich and Miko Vukona get into it after the two sides scrum for a loose ball. Thank the Basketball Gods for blessing us with more intensity than we’ve seen in 48 hours. Turkey vs. France: nope. Slovenia vs. Australia: nope. Angola vs. USA: hell nope. I love it.
-Just wrapped up some more radio for BBC. I used the opportunity to voice my relief for the action we’re seeing on the floor. During my rambling, halftime hit and Russia led 31-27.
New Zealand: Kirk Penney 8, Phil Jones 5, Thomas Abercrombie 5, Pero Cameron 4
Russia: Vitaliy Fridzon 7, Sasha Kaun 6, Sergey Monya 5, Timofey Mozgov 5, Vorontsevich 5 rebounds
-Vorontsevich mixing it up again, this time chucking a ball at Penney after the whistle blows. Unfortunately, FIBA wouldn’t give us a replay so I can’t speak for its dirtiness. Either way, Penney is back to the bench and it’s up to Thomas Abercrombie to generate some offense. Brilliant take from the outside, finishing with contact, hitting the ensuing free throw.
-New Zealand needs to control their aggression somewhat. Two dumb reaching fouls in a row, one of which left Mika Vukona with his third.
-That’s the kind of stuff I’m talking about; Mika Vukona thrashes down at Mozgov who’s already lying ion the ground and now he’s on the bench with four. How did that help anyone, Mika? Mozgov has some nice dunks in his repertoire, but I’ve never seen him do it from the seat of his pants.
-Phil Jones is screwing up royally out there. The first offense was blowing a wide open lay-up, the second letting Vorontsevich drill a three right over top of him. Russia’s built up a lead of 14 here with 2:05 to go in the third. 49-35.
-Nenad Vucinic needs to get Kirk Penney back in there immediately. It’s 51-35 and New Zealand can’t keep this up any longer if they expect to win.
-I haven’t witnessed a solid comeback effort in this tournament yet. I have a feeling New Zealand might have one in them in the fourth. They need this last 1:26 of the third to go in their favor though, otherwise it might be asking too much.
-There we go. Michael Fitchett with a corner three and Kirk Penney’s back in. 34.4 seconds left, NZL ball.
-Evgeny Voronov with the silly foul on Penney with 0.4 on the clock. He hits both throws and Russia’s 16-point lead has been trimmed to 11. That could end up making all the difference in the world.
-David Blatt has gotta be pissed. Super, super pissed. Penney just got fouled on the three. Hits one and Blatt’s angrier. Hits two and he’s furious. Nails all three and he’s losing hair. 51-43 Russia.
-Russia continues their great work on the O-boards, draw the foul and Vorontsevich makes it count with a deuce.
-New Zealand is trying to outdo Russia’s fouls on the dumbness scale. This time Casey Frank with an unnecessary elbow fighting for position.
-Nobody can box out Vorontsevich or Timofey Mozgov. It’s pathetic. They’re just not long enough. Mika Vukona has fouled out as a result now. Fouls Vorontsevich on his way up.
-This just in: Angola will donate Joaquim Gomes to New Zealand for the rest of the game. No, not really. But that would be excellent.
-Russia’s defense has been incredible. The only way to beat them is on the drive and Penney can’t do that against Ponkrashov. Abercrombie really the only threat since Fitchett’s too small to finish.
-Complete lack of concentration now from the Tall Blacks. Vitaliy Fridzon runs to the rim uncontested after a Russian rebound.
-And Phil Jones’ troubles continue. This he fouls Sergey Monya on a three-pointer with :02 on the shot clock. Monya sinks all three.
-Penney with a deuce.
-Don’t matter much. We’re looking at our fourth blowout in the last two days. This one at least gave us some fun moments and some hopeful thoughts. 20 seconds until it’s all over.
-Mozgov sends it in and that seals it up. Russia out-plays, out-lengths and out-classes New Zealand to move on to the final eight and a meeting with Team USA.
FINAL SCORE: Russia 78-56 New Zealand
Russia: Andrey Vorontsevich 18 points, 11 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks; Timofey Mozgov 16 points, 7 rebounds; Vitaliy Fridzon 12 points, 2 steals; Anton ponkrashov 9 points, 7 assists
New Zealand: Kirk Penney 21 points, 2 assists; Thomas Abercrombie 13 points, 4 rebounds;
Key Team Stats: RUS out rebounded NZL 41-25; RUS shot 29/59 (49%) compared to NZL’s 15/48 (31%).
Tomorrow: China vs. Lithuania and Argentina vs. Brazil