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Russia edges New Zealand at Stankovic Cup

08-08-2011 15:12 BJT

GUANGZHOU, China, Aug. 6 (Xinhua) -- The Haining leg runner-up Russia won a 74-71 thriller over newcomers New Zealand at the opener of Stankovic Cup Guangzhou leg here on Saturday.

New Zealand came back from 12 points deficit, but failed to make a crucial 3-pointer in the last 20 seconds.

New Zealand's Vukona grabbed the match highest 19 points, only to pale before Smygin's 16 combined with Gubanov's 15.

New Zealand, who replaced Australia for Guangzhou leg of the Stankovic Cup, suffered a desperate first half against Russia who led the game all the way and every time when their opponents narrowed the gap, they could find ways to widen it again.

Russia led 47-35 into the second half and New Zealand started to cut the deficit from the third quarter, when they narrowed it to nine points before they took the lead for the first time with seven minutes to go in the fourth quarter.

Then the last five minutes saw the fiercest competitions between the two sides. Russia was leading the game 70-69 when there was 68 seconds and holding the ball, Smygin scored an incredible 3-pointer at the bottom line just before the whistle for 24-second violation, stretching their advantage to 4 points.

New Zealand regained the hope as they made a timely layup to cut it to 2 points before Russia's Gubanov missed 1 of 2 free throws. Dickel and Penney both missed two crucial 3-pointers, only to see time running up still with 3 points to go.

"Although we are suffering from jet lag actually, we are not looking for any excuses for the defeat," said Vucinic, New Zealand's coach at the press conference after match.

"Our boys have done a fantastic job, I am especially satisfied with the last two minutes, when we finally grasped the chance to win," said Russian coach Pashuntin.

Editor:Wang Xiaomei |Source: Xinhua

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