25th August 21:29
France wary of Russia in Euro Championships quarterfinals
STOCKHOLM, Sweden (Ticker) - Despite watching his team storm through
its first three games in the European Basketball Championships, France
coach Alain Weisz is warning his players not to take Russia lightly.
Russia has reached the quarterfinals by riding the outstanding play of
Utah Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko, who is averaging 26.5 points, 7.5
rebounds, 2.8 blocks and 2.8 steals per game. In Monday's eliminator,
he scored 29 points in an 81-77 upset of Croatia.
A day before the teams meet in Wednesday's quarterfinals, Weisz
likened Kirilenko's impact on Russia's fortunes to NBA superstar's
Dirk Nowitzki influence on Germany's. But he does not want his players
believing he is all the Russians (3-1) have.
"He is a particularly strong player to whom we will have to pay
special attention, but he is not the only one, because (Sergei) Monia,
(Nikolai) Khryapa and (point guard Vassili) Karassev are very strong,"
Weisz told French magazine L'Equipe.
With a contingent of NBA players led by San Antonio Spurs point guard
Tony Parker, France won its three first-round games by a combined 61
points, establishing itself as a favorite for a medal and a coveted
Olympic berth along with fellow unbeatens Spain and Lithuania.