By Yarone Arbel
|Four years later, the haircut might be totally different but, if statistics are anything to go by, Andrei Kirilenko could be on his way to repeat this moment|
With Russia being the only team still perfect at EuroBasket 2011 and just three wins short from winning the title for the second time since 2007, it's a good time to look at the similarities between the two teams.
The main base of the team remains the same with the 2007 title-winning side.
On the bench is still the same crowned David Blatt and on the floor there are three cornerstones.
A trio of forwards in Andrei Kirilenko, Sergey "Mr. Clutch" Monya and Viktor Khryapa form the backbone of the squad.
The main difference is the type of group that surrounds them.
In 2007, the supporting cast was made up mostly of veterans, and most of them retired from the national team after that run.
J.R. Holden, who scored the winning bucket in the title game, was 31 years old, Nikita Morgunov was 32, Petr Samoylenko 30, Zakhar Pashutin 33, Alexey Savrasenko 28 and Nikolai Padius 27.
Three of the supporting cast of 2007, the younger generation back then, are back in 2011 in Anton Ponkrashov, Nikita Shabalkin and Sergey Bykov, yet their role was very limited back then.
Bykov played just 16 minutes in the entire championship, Shabalkin only 20 and Ponkrashov didn't step on the floor for three games, yet registered his tournament-high of 18 minutes and reached another high in points in the title game.
In 2011, these players are the main executers while the three oldest players on the roster are the three forwards.
25-year-old Timofey Mozgov, 24-year-old Andrey Vorontsevitch, 26-year-old Vitaliy Fridzon, 23-year-old Aleksey Shved and younger players are the secondary line of Coach Blatt.
|Despite the important changes in personnel since 2007, Russia maintains the unmistakable touch of coach Blatt in its game|
Yet the touch of Blatt and the characteristics of the forward trio still keep almost the exact same concept of the team.
Their defense is still their main weapon, especially around the rim and the numbers tell the same story.
Just like in 2007, Russia arrive to the quarter-finals with only one game in which they allowed their opponents to score more than 70.
Back then, they allowed only 65 points per game coming into the final round while this year they allow 63.6.
In 2007 they allowed teams to shoot in only 38.7% from the floor (ranked 2nd), 41.3% inside the arc (1st), and 34.8% outside it (9th).
This time around Russia's opponents hit only 40.2% from the field(2nd), 45.7% in two-point range (3rd) and 31.3% from the perimeter (9th as well).
In both championships they were far from being the best scoring team, yet in 2007 they dished more assists than any other team and in 2011 they are second only to Spain.
In 2007 they topped the competition in blocked shots with 3.8 per game, while these days they average 3.3 and rank in the top three.
Back in 2007 Kirilenko was the best scorer, rebounder and stealer and the best passer was Khryapa.
The exact same story is here in 2011 with the only difference being in Mozgov taking over Kirilenko's spot as the top shot blocker.
If that's not enough take a look at their quarter-finals opponent.
In 2007 Russia faced France to fight for a spot in the semi-finals, while this year their opponent is Serbia.
At first look two different stories, yet both Serbia and France arrived to that game still as medal holders from the previous EuroBasket as France won bronze in 2005 and Serbia silver in 2009.
Will all these figures and circumstances be enough for Russia to prevail and re-create the 2007 sensation?