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BASKETBALL > Russia and Lithuania book London tickets

CARACAS, Venezuela - Agence France-Presse

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Russia’s Andrey Kirilenko (R) shoots against Nigeria’s Ike Diogu during a 2012 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament game between Russia and Nigeria in Caracas. REUTERS photo

Russia’s Andrey Kirilenko (R) shoots against Nigeria’s Ike Diogu during a 2012 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament game between Russia and Nigeria in Caracas. REUTERS photo

Russia and Lithuania qualified for the London Games basketball competition on Saturday with semifinal victories in the FIBA Olympic qualifying tournament in Caracas.

Russia remained undefeated in the qualifying event with an 85-77 semifinal victory over Nigeria while Lithuania defeated the Dominican Republic 109-83.

Nigeria and the Dominican Republic were to play for the third and final Olympic berth, while Russia and Lithuania will now turn their attention to London.

Andrei Kirilenko led European bronze medalist Russia with 19 points, eight rebounds, four steals and three assists.

The Russians opened a 20 point third-quarter lead and while the tenacious Nigerians narrowed the gap to six in the final period they could get no closer.

Vitaliy Fridzon added 15 points and three assists for Russia that had 22 points, six assists and four rebounds from Alexey Shved.

Ike Diogu led Nigeria with 16 points and 12 rebounds.

Lithuania notched a dominant victory to maintain their streak of Olympic appearances.

Lithuania has ranked among the first four in the five Olympic Games since its independence from the former Soviet Union, winning bronze in 1992, 1996, 2000 and taking fourth in 2004 and 2008. Jonas Maciulis stepped up when it mattered with 19 points and Jonas Valanciunas, selected by the Toronto Raptors with the fifth pick in the 2011 NBA draft, added 17 as five Lithuanian players scored in double figures.

Jack Michael Martinez scored 13 points with 10 rebounds for the Dominican Republic. Al Horford added 12 points and Francisco Garcia chipped in 11.

Both Russia and Lithuania will play in group A in the preliminary round in London, along with the 2008 gold medallist the United States, Argentina, France and Tunisia.

 The winner of the game between Nigeria and the Dominican Republic will book a berth in group B, which includes Spain, Brazil, Australia, China and host Great Britain.

July/09/2012

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