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LONDON (Olympics) - Russia beat Argentina 81-77 in Sunday's Bronze Medal Game of the Olympic Basketball Tournament for Men.

Aleksey Shved had 25 points and was clutch in the fourth quarter to deny the Argentinians, the winners of the bronze in 2008 in Beijing.

The Russians trailed 77-76, but Shved hit a three-pointer from the top of the key with 37 seconds remaining for a 79-77 edge.

Argentina moved the ball around the next trip down the floor and Andres Nocioni tried his luck from the right hand corner. However, his three-point attempt rimmed out.

Russia got the rebound, but Pablo Prigioni stole the ball near midcourt only to fall to the ground and see the Russians send it the other way.

Shved passed the ball up the court to a wide open Vitaliy Fridzon who scored a lay-up for an 81-77 advantage with five seconds to go and time then ran out on Argentina.

We beat a great team today. I sincerely mean that. 2004 gold medalists, 2008 bronze medalists. A team that has been together 10 years, has some of the brightest stars and two of the best coaches," Russia head coach David Blatt said afterwards.

"Argentina are a team of the highest level. We beat them in a high level game. Getting a medal in the Olympics is history for new Russia.

"We've won three medals in recent years - gold at EuroBasket 2007, bronze at last year's EuroBasket and now this. It's been a great ride.

"I'm thankful to my players, to the federation and to the country of Russia who accepted me as one of their own and allowed me to lead these men to the highest heights."

Before Shved's dagger, Manu Ginobili had driven up and under the basket for a lefty lay-up high off the glass that put Argentina up 77-76 with 43.2 seconds.

It was an epic game featuring 17 lead changes and the score was tied on 12 occasions.

Russia will be thankful to Shved, who accounted for 13 of their last 17 points.

"He's a great, great talent. This tournament has been up and down for him. But as long as he's got confidence, he plays well. Today we gave him that confidence. He made a very important three at the end of the game and gave us a huge lift," Andrei Kirilenko said of his team-mate.

Blatt's team entered the fourth quarter with a 61-57 lead but the score was tied at 62 when Ginobili swooped in for a trademark lefty lay-up.

Shved showed his full offensive arsenal, hitting a three-pointer, then crossing over Nocioni for a jumper and scoring on a dunk inside for a 71-66 lead.

Argentina came back and when Ginobili buried a left corner three-pointer, they were in front 72-71 with 2:44 to go.

Shved and Carlos Delfino then traded free-throws, with the latter putting the South Americans up 75-74 with 1:14 left to play.

Kirilenko made a huge play when he skied high to grab an offensive off a miss by Shved and found Fridzon, who was then fouled. He hit both attempts from the charity stripe to put

Russia ahead 76-75 with 56.5 seconds.

Ginobili then went for his spectacular drive, before Shved connected from beyond the arc, giving Russia the lead for good.

There was little to separate the two teams in the first half.

Russia were first to strike, jumping to an early 10-4 lead. Argentina erased the deficit and edged in front 14-12 on a Ginobili three-pointer.

With Ginobili and Nocioni combining for 15 points, the South Americans were up 20-19 at the end of the first quarter.

They stretched that advantage to 27-21 early in the second quarter, but Russia soon responded with a 12-0 run to give them the ascendency.

Shved hit a three-pointer, Victor Khryapa followed that with five quick points and Kirilenko had two easy fastbreak baskets for a 33-27 score.

Argentina went scoreless for 5:33, but Leo Gutierrez ended that drought with two three-pointers to tie the game. Ginobili then hit a long bomb of his own to make it nine unanswered point and a 36-33 advantage.

The teams traded the lead late in the second period until Shved connected from beyond the arc in the closing seconds to give Russia a 40-38 edge at the half.

It was more of the same early in the third quarter, with Nocioni hitting a three before Sasha Kaun scored inside. Kirilenko put the Russians up 44-41 but at the other end Prigioni buried a three to tie it at 44.

Russia then pulled away, going up 56-48 on Fridzon's three-pointer. They had the first double-digit lead of the game when Sergey Monya stole an inbound near midcourt and went the other way for a lay-up that made it 61-50 with 1:16 to go in the period.

However, Argentina fought back again, Ginobili converting a three-point play and Facundo Campazzo beating the shot clock in the dying seconds to hit a tough one-footed three-pointer that got them within 61-57 heading into the final frame.

Ginobili finished with 21 points for Argentina.

"It was a very tough game. It could have gone either way," he said.

"Russia deserved it. They played a very good game and made the big shots.

"I think we were not very sharp during the game. One of the main reasons is because of their plan. They executed their defense very well and didn't allow us to play our pick-and-roll the way we wanted.

"We realised that a little late, when we were down 11. We came back and got in front. At the end, their shots went in, ours went in and out. then so many little variables happened."


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