Preview by Jeff Taylor
|Sergey Monya taking the game-winning shot over Gjorgij Checovski in the Group F game between the two sides. Six days later, they meet again with the bronze medal at stake |
Bronze Medal Game - Sunday at 17:30 (16:30 CET)
Russia and F.Y.R. of Macedonia have already traded blows in one thrilling encounter at EuroBasket 2011 and they'll do so again on Sunday, but this time with a bronze medal at stake.
The sides will meet in Kaunas, one week after Russia's Sergey Monya banked in a three-ball at the buzzer to give his team victory in Vilnius and clinch first place in Group F.
Both teams won their respective Quarter-Final ties.
F.Y.R. of Macedonia, getting strong performances from Bo McCalebb, Vojdan Stojanovski and Vlado Ilievski, upset hosts Lithuania, 67-65, on Wednesday night.
Russia then brushed aside Serbia 77-67 on Thursday with Andrei Kirilenko's 14 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and four steals leading the way.
On Friday, it took an awesome Spain to knock the Balkan side out of the title hunt while Russia lost their unbeaten record at the EuroBasket in a Semi-Final setback to Nicolas Batum and France.
David Blatt's team fell to the French despite another outstanding night from EuroBasket 2007 MVP Kirilenko, who had 21 points and three steals.
Russia have reached the podium before at the EuroBasket, most recently four years ago in Madrid when they upset Spain in the gold medal game.
Their rivals meanwhile, who lost starting big man Todor Gechevski to injury in Group F action, have never won a medal in the competition and will be eager for that to change.
Their coach, Marin Dokuzovski, has proved to be one of the top coaches in the competition.
Russia coach David Blatt will not want to leave Lithuania without a medal.
Both sides assured themselves of places in next year's FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament by reaching the Semi-Finals.
VIDEO: CLAUDIO COLDEBELLA AND BOSTJAN NACHBAR PREVIEW THE BRONZE MEDAL GAME
Head-to-Head: Russia have won all four of their meetings with F.Y.R of Macedonia over the years, most recently on the last day of Second Round play at this year's tournament in Vilnius. They won that contest, 63-61.
Last Time Out: In the Semi-Finals, Spain beat F.Y.R of Macedonia, 92-80, and France overcame Russia, 79-71.
Key Match-Up: Russia's Andrei Kirilenko vs. F.Y.R. of Macedonia's Vojdan Stojanovski. Kirilenko struggled against Stojanovski in the first meeting, finishing with two points on one-of-nine shooting.
Key Stat: Russia attempted just five free-throws in their first meeting a week ago while F.Y.R of Macedonia were 10 of 18.
X-Factor: Viktor Khryapa of Russia.
Sounding Off: "I hope we made our fans proud (against Spain). We will try to do the same for the bronze medal game," says F.Y.R. of Macedonia big man Predrag Samardziski.