CARACAS (FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament) – It' s easy to look at the talent assembled on the Russian roster and credit that with their unbeaten progress to the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament semi-finals.
According to star forward Andrey Kirilenko, however, his teammates' commitment to scrapping for every contested ball is just as important.
"It's the type of game we try to get into," he said.
"We are a very energetic team, we hustle on both ends of the floor and that's why we've been successful."
Russia leads the tournament in rebounding differential and steals, and if stats were kept would probably collect more loose balls than any other team.
Captain Sergey Monya said this was an enormous focus before their 80-65 Quarter-Final win over Angola.
"We watched their last game and they took 25 offensive rebounds," he said.
"Coach said before the game they are a very good team, very physical and ambitious. If we don't take the rebounds or the loose balls it will be very difficult to win."
The European bronze medallists won the rebound count 38-32, pinched eight steals and held Angola to 37% shooting as they nullified their advantage coming off the pick-and-roll.
"We play as a team, try to help each other and cover for each other, especially defensively," Kirilenko said.
While Russia has looked unbeatable so far -a team that could challenge for a medal at the London Olympics - Kirilenko is not getting ahead of himself.
"It's only the first step. Right now we are in the top four, but there are only three spots."