Russia beats Spain winning Euro basketball title

Jon Robert Holden scored with two seconds remaining Sunday to lift Russia over Spain 60-59 in the final of the European Basketball Championship.

Holden stripped Spain centre Pau Gasol with 27 seconds to play then pump-faked before his jump shot bounced high and in for the win. Gasol's jumper at the buzzer rattled out as time expired.

"This was a victory of David over Goliath. We faced the beast and knocked him down and won," Russia coach David Blatt said. "It's a historic event. I'm proud to be the person in charge of this historic journey."

Utah Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko led Russia with 17 points as the Russians won their first European title in 22 years.

"This is the best achievement of my career. To beat the Spanish team in Spain was a very tough challenge," tournament MVP Kirilenko said. "We stayed together as a team and won this game."

Toronto Raptors point guard Jose Calderon led Spain with 15 points. Raptors forward Jorge Garbahose added eight points and six rebounds.

Spain shot a tournament low 29 per cent from the floor (17-of-59) and was outscored 26-10 in the post.

"We're not going to wash our dirty laundry in public," said Spain coach Pepu Hernandez when asked what went wrong. "This is still a very strong team, an exemplary one in fact. For me, it's the best Spanish team in history."

Garbajosa's three-pointer put Spain in front after Russia had led for the first time when the American-born Holden made a layup at 9:02 to make it 51-49.

"From the fourth quarter you could feel them tightening up," Blatt said. "

But Gasol, who finished with 14 points and 14 rebounds, struggled from the foul line in the last five minutes - making only 4-of-9. His last miss left the hosts leading 60-54 with 1:48 to play.

With 59 seconds to go, Kirilenko stole the ball from Carlos Jimenez to set up Nikita Morgunov as Russia narrowed the deficit to 59-58.

Russia last won the European title when it was still the former Soviet Union, the AP reports.

Russia's Utah Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko scored a game-high 17 points and was voted the tournament's MVP. He was supported by Victor Khryapa with 12 rebounds and seven points.

"This was a meeting of David against Goliath, we faced the beast and knocked him down," said Russia coach David Blatt.

"Our plan was to stay in the game and make them feel the heat, the pressure of 15,000 fans, and to see how they play. Fortunately, we did that and we won."

Urged on by their passionate home support, Spain tore into Russia at the start and opened up a 12-point lead early in the second quarter.

But Blatt's side did not lose their heads, tightened up in defence, and slowly reeled them back to trail 34-31 at halftime.

Russia's Zakhar Pashutin sank a three-pointer to level for the first time at 49-49 at the start of the fourth and it was neck and neck until the closing seconds when Holden gave Russia the one point advantage, Reuters reports.

Source: agencies

Author`s name Alex Naumov