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Olympics: Russia, Spain made to sweat as US amass 156 points

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Aug. 3, 2012, 9:28 a.m. | Sports — by Reuters

Russian coach David Blatt (2ndL) and players celabrate at the end of the men's preliminary round basketball match Brazil vs Russia of the London 2012 Olympic Games on August 2, 2012 at the basketball arena in London. Russia won 75-74.
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LONDON - Two nail-biting finishes kept the pot boiling at the top of Group B in the men's Olympic basketball on Thursday while a record-breaking romp underlined why United States are the favourites to land gold.

Russia squeezed past Brazil 75-74 to maintain their unbeaten record at the summit of Group B along with 2008 silver medallists Spain (3-0) who narrowly held off an inspired British team (0-3) to score a 79-78 victory.

Vitaliy Fridzon's three-pointer while falling came with four seconds left on the clock and saw Russia home against Brazil (2-1).

"They hit a very tough shot," Brazil captain Marcelinho Huertas told reporters.

"He could do that 10 times and he wouldn't make it again. He was falling and a guy was under his feet. We have to forget this right away."

Spain looked like they were going through the motions before waking up in the last minute to avoid a shock defeat against gutsy Britain.

"We were always at half-speed until the very end when the game was in danger," said coach Sergio Scariolo.

Los Angeles Lakers centre Pao Gasol said the close call for his team would wake up the Spaniards.

"This was not the kind of result we expected but it was a good game for us to realise that we have to play 100 percent all the time," said Gasol. "It's good that it didn't cost us."

Britain's coach appreciated another valiant effort by his team who also pressurised Russia before losing and were beaten by five points by Brazil.

"We're proud of our players," said the host nation's American coach Chris Finch. "We had an unbelievable atmosphere in the arena and I'm proud of our fans.

"Maybe we can make some noise for the greater good of the game with these types of games but for our own purpose and our own team we need to win."

Luol Deng had 26 points and Joel Freeland scored 25 as Britain used some sharp three-point shooting to give world number two Spain a fright.

A flood of three-point scoring earned the defending champions from the U.S. (3-0) a 156-73 drubbing of Nigeria (1-2) in Group A.

Led by Carmelo Anthony, who picked up 37 points including a remarkable 10-of-12 from three-point range, the Americans set an Olympic record for most points in a game to surpass the haul of 138 by Brazil in 1988.

The U.S. team's 78 points at halftime was also a Games record.

In other preliminary round games, France (2-1) beat Lithuania (1-2) 82-74, Argentina (2-1) beat Tunisia (0-3) 92-69 and Australia (1-2) defeated China (0-3) 81-61.

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