The final play that led to Vitaliy Fridzon’s three from the corner was drawn-up, and planned for the Khimki guard, admitted Russia coach David Blatt.
It was Fridzon’s only three-point attempt of the game, yet Blatt was confident in his player’s ability to shoot with the game on the line.
His confidence was paid in full by Fridzon.
“Yes [the play was drawn-up for Fridzon], we drew the play in the time-out,” Blatt admitted. “It’s a play that I’ve used before in special situations and it’s not a play we’ve practiced, we drew it up on the spot. It isn’t always the best thing but it was the neccessary thing.”
The Maccabi Electra coach added: “It was a fantastic game though. The Olympics are about of course performance, achievement and winning but it is also about sportsmanship and the love of doing it and I think everyone involved today represented, saw, felt and showed those qualities.”
Fridzon himself was down to earth moments after his clutch play.
“I was the first option,” Fridzon said. “Coach wanted me to take the shot if I was open. I went around the first screen, I was found and I hit the shot. I was feeling the shot and concentrated on my release and it dropped.”
Many fans inside the Olympic Basketball Arena expected Minnesota Timberwolves guard Alexey Shved to throw Russia’s last roll of the dice following Marcelhinho Huertas’ lay-up with 3.9 seconds remaining that gave Brazil a 74-72 lead.
Shved though echoed his coach’s statements and wanted Fridzon, who he labelled ‘the team’s best shooter’ to take the last shot.
“He’s our number one option, he wanted to go with him,” Shved, who hit 17 points on 47 percent shooting said.
“As a team we have total confidence in whoever coach picks to take the shot. We’re a team, we all have the ability to take pressure shots.”
Russia are now through to the quarter-finals following their third win out of three games.