USA Basketball Falls to Russia 66-64|
August 8, 1998
ATHENS, Greece - Russian forward Serguei Panov went coast-to-coast to score a layup with 4 seconds left and give his team an improbable 66-64 win over the USA Basketball Men's World Championship Team Saturday night in Athens. Russia, which overcame a 10-point USA lead in the final three minutes, got 30 points from 6-3 veteran guard Serguei Babkov. With the win, Russia (7-1) advances to meet Yugoslavia (7-1), 78-73 winners over Greece (6-2) in tonight's other semifinal contest, while the U.S. (6-2) will face host Greece (5-3) in the bronze medal game Sunday (5:45 p.m. Athens time).
"I wanted these guys to experience winning the championship. When we first started, we talked about this team being a team of dreams," said USA head mentor Rudy Tomjanovich. "I'm very disappointed, but I'm proud of these guys. This team has come a long way and nobody gave them a chance and they became one of the favorites. I love them. They worked together real well; we came such a long way in a short amount of time. It was a great experience, I have no regrets at all, I wish we would have won the game. I'll have fond memories, but we learned a big lesson about just keeping our focus.
"We worked real hard to get a 10 point lead, then we had several mental lapses, leaving the best shooter we have seen wide open and we got some horrendous calls. It was just the little mistakes here or there; it's a great lesson on how mentally tough you've got to be especially when you have a lead. I've got to give them (Russia) a lot of credit, they made tremendous plays.
"We had no idea what they (Russia) were going to do," said Tomjanovich on Russia's final play. "It was a tough deal for us. They put in a smaller lineup and we had our center in and I tried to get a guy in to take his place, but we couldn't get him in quick enough," continued Tomjanovich.
"He (Panov) made a great play. We still had a chance, we had worked (in practices) on advancing the ball quick for a shot, and the seconds it took for us to get the ball made it late enough, it would have been a tremendous ending."
The dramatic finish was set up after Babkov made his fourth 3-pointer of the game to tie the game 64-64 with 1:22 to play. The U.S. then missed a 3-point shot on the other end, but applied defensive pressure and forced Russia into a shot clock violation with 34.4 seconds left. The U.S. looked to run the clock down and take the game's final shot, but guard Michael Hawkins (Olympiakos, Greece / Xavier 95) was whistled for an offensive foul as he drove to the basket, giving Russia the ball with 10 seconds left. Russia inbounded the ball to the 6-7 Panov who drove the length of the court for a layup with 4 second left. The clock continued to run as the U.S. attempted to retrieve the ball and when Wendell Alexis (Alba Berlin, Germany / Syracuse 86) finally caught the ball, his shot from just inside half court went in but was ruled to have come after time had expired.
The loss was an especially hard one for the U.S. which had led for all but the final 1:22 of the second half. Following a fastbreak dunk by Jimmy King (Quad City Thunder / Michigan 95), the U.S. seemed in total charge, holding a 10 point, 64-54, lead with 3:10 to play.
Those were the final points the Americans would score. Mikhail Mikhailov scored with 2:48 remaining to start the game winning 12-0 run by Russia, and after USA center Brad Miller (Purdue 98) was whistled for an offensive foul on the following possession, Panov converted both free throws to pull Russia within six, 64-58, with 2:43 to play. After a U.S. turnover on the offensive end, Babkov made a 3-pointer to make the score 64-61 with 1:59 to go, and following a U.S. missed 3-point attempt, Babkov connected on another 3-pointer to tie the game 64-64 with 1:22 to play.
Despite trailing by as many as eight points in the first half, the U.S. rallied back and Jason Sasser's (Sioux Falls Skyforce / Caja San Fernando, Spain / Texas Tech 96) 10-foot bank shot went down at the buzzer giving the Americans a 39-37 lead at half. Although Russia received 20 points from Babkov in the first half alone, the Russians made just 7-of-15 free throws over the final 5:15 of the half to aid the USA's comeback effort.
Forward Gerard King (Siena, Italy / Nicholls State 96) was the USA's only scorer in double figures with 10 points while adding six rebounds. Jimmy Oliver (Ciuda De Huelva, Spain / Purdue 91) finished with nine points and six boards, while Jimmy King and David Wood (Rockford Lightning / Unicaja Malaga, Spain / Nevada Reno 87), each tallied eight points. The U.S. shot 44.1 percent for the game, but made just 20.0 percent (4-20) of its 3-point tries. Russia shot 39.3 percent for the game from the floor, including 40.9 percent (9-22) from three.
"You never think the game is over; anything can happen, like tonight, we had a 10 point lead with six minutes to go. I don't think we were complacent or thought the game was over. It just came down to basic plays and Russia made the plays when they had to and we didn't," stated USA guard Jimmy King. "Right now its still not over for us, we still have a game tomorrow to play. This loss hurts; our eyes were set for the gold, now we have to regroup and come back as a team and focus on winning the bronze."
In 5th-8th place classification play, Italy (5-3) received 18 points from Alessandro Abbio and edged Lithuania (4-4) 76-71, while Juan Antonio Orenga scored 22 points as Spain (6-2) finished strong to over take Argentina (3-5) 77-64. Italy will face Spain Sunday in the game to determine 5th and 6th places, while Lithuania will take on Argentina in the 7th and 8th place game.
In the battle for 9th place, Australia's guards Shane Heal and Andrew Gaze combined to score 35 points as the Aussies (5-3) overcame a five-point halftime deficit to capture a 79-75 decision over Brazil (2-6). In the contest to decide 11th and 12th places, Puerto Rico (3-5), behind 21 points from both Eddin Santiago and Orlando Vega, beat Canada (1-7) 92-81.
1998 FIBA MEN'S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
OFFICIAL BASKETBALL BOX SCORE
VISITORS: United States Men's World Championship Team (6-2)
NO NAME FG FGA 3P 3PA FT FTA OR DR TOT PF PTS A TO BK ST MIN 5 Michael Hawkins 2 6 1 4 1 1 2 1 3 4 6 3 6 0 0 31 7 Jason Sasser 4 7 0 0 0 0 1 1 2 2 8 0 2 0 1 27 10 Jimmy Oliver 4 12 1 7 0 0 0 6 6 1 9 0 2 0 2 33 12 Gerard King 3 4 0 0 4 6 4 2 6 3 10 1 2 0 0 21 13 Dave Wood 3 5 2 2 0 0 0 2 2 3 8 0 0 0 0 9HOME: Russia Men's World Championship Team (7-1)
NO NAME FG FGA 3P 3PA FT FTA OR DR TOT PF PTS A TO BK ST MIN 4 Vassilij Karassev 4 12 2 7 0 2 0 1 1 2 10 2 0 0 2 39 7 Evgeni Kissourine 1 5 0 0 1 1 1 3 4 0 3 1 0 0 3 27 10 Serguei Babkov 9 14 4 6 8 8 0 1 1 1 30 1 1 1 0 24 11 Mikhail Mikhailov 3 8 0 0 0 1 5 2 7 3 6 1 3 1 0 31 14 Serguei Panov 2 5 1 2 2 4 1 2 3 4 7 1 4 1 1 30OFFICIALS SCORE
1st 2nd Final Izstok Rems (SLO) United States 39 25 64 Paul Chavez (ARG) Russia 37 29 66