Preview >> USA Women vs. Russia
TV: Live at 8 a.m. on MSNBC
*All times listed are Eastern Daylight Time.
In the 2008 Olympics
Russia emerged from Group A with the No. 2 seed after wins over Latvia (62-57), South Korea (77-72), Belarus (71-65) and Brazil (75-55) and a loss to Australia (75-55). Russia advanced to play the USA in the semifinals after topping Spain 84-65 in the medal round quarterfinals. In preliminary group play, Tatian Schchegoleva and Ilona Korstin led with 13 points apiece against Latvia and South Korea; Maria Stepanova tallied 13 points against Belarus, Schchegoleva scored 14 points against Brazil and Becky Hammon scored 20 points in the loss to Australia. Nineteen points from Schchegoleva helped lead Russia past Spain the quarters.
Russia is led by three players in double figures, including Hammon with 13.2 ppg., Schchegoleva with 11.8 ppg. and Korstin with 10.3 ppg. Russia is shooting 43.7 percent from the field, 44.7 percent from 3-point and 72.6 percent from the free throw line. Making 34-of-76 from 3-point Russia leads the tournament in 3-point field goal percentage (.447), and Svetlana Abrosinova's 6-of-8 performance from 3-point thus far leads the tournament individual's in 3-point field goal percentage.
Aug. 9: Russia 62, Latvia 57 - Stats
Aug. 11: Russia 77, South Korea 72 - Stats
Aug. 13: Russia 71, Belarus 65 - Stats
Aug. 15: Russia 74, Brazil 64 - Stats
Aug. 17: Australia 75, Russia 55 - Stats
Aug. 19: Russia 84, Spain 65 - Stats
A Little History
Russia, which earned its 2008 Olympic berth as the reigning FIBA Europe Champion, last met the USA in major international competition in the 2006 FIBA World Championship semifinals, when Russia won 75-68. Most recently on Aug. 4, the USA recorded a 93-58 win at the 2008 FIBA Diamond Ball Tournament in Haining, China.
Overall, Russia and the USA have played twice in Olympic action, including a 66-62 U.S. win in the 2004 semifinals and an 88-77 U.S. victory in 2000. Additionally, the USA has an 0-1 tally against the Unified Team, losing 79-73 in 1992, and a 1-1 record against the former Soviet Union, winning 102-88 in 1988 and losing 112-77 in 1976.
The Scouting Report
USA assistant coach Gail Goestenkors
You've seen them through preliminary play and then in the quarterfinals. What do we know about Russia?
Well they are playing their best basketball. They were 4-1 in pool play, but their average margin of victory was one point, so every game had been close. The game they lost to Australia was a difficult one for them. I've seen them play every game, and every game they get better and better. Last night, they started off with some difficulties. Spain was hitting all their shots, and it was really one of the first times I saw them dig deep, fight and comeback. I almost feel like they turned a corner last night. I saw a lot of emotion from them that I had not seen previously. It's going to be an unbelievable game with what's at stake and with what happened in the World Championships when they beat us. They are playing their best basketball, and I feel like we're starting to play our best basketball as well, so I know it will be an amazing environment.
What makes them dangerous and how should we respond?
Well, they have so many weapons. They've got great size inside with Stepanova and Osipova, two huge players. Usually, we have the size advantage. They are actually bigger than we are, and that's something we're not used to. On the perimeter, they're guards are very big, very strong and they attack the basket. And then I think Becky Hammon adds a whole new dimension to their team in that she can shoot the three and she's a tremendous leader for them as well. She's really the one who spearheaded their comeback last night against Spain. The way that we have to respond? We have to be strong, we have to be physical and we have to stay out of foul trouble because they do a great job getting to the free throw line. And then we have to dominate the boards and not let them have second chances.
Are we ready for this game?
I think both teams are ready. It's going to be the best game of the tournament up to this point because both teams are playing their best basketball. Their fan support has been phenominal. I saw Russian flags all over the arena yesterday, so they will be loud, and they will be boisterous. We hope to have fans from China supporting us as well. We've made good friends here.