Holden his own in Russia

You might recall back in April we filled you in on the exploits of Bucknell grad J.R. Holden, the former All-Patriot League point guard who was given special dispensation by Vladimir Putin to become a Russian citizen after starring for Russian hoops power CSKA.

At the time, it was widely speculated that one reason Holden was granted a Russian passport was because the country's national team was in dire need of a point guard. Now it is official, Holden will be the guy running the point for the Russian national team when it opens play in the European basketball championships.

According to the Moscow Times, Holden joined the Russian national team at a tournament in Turkey two weeks ago and made an immediate impression.

The Russians had lost to Lithuania in a pre-tournament warm-up a month ago. In Turkey, though:
The team went on to win three out of four games in the tournament, including victories over strong Turkish and French squads, and Holden led the team in scoring, averaging 17.3 points per game. In a rematch with Lithuania in Moscow on Thursday, Holden scored 17 points as Russia avenged the loss with a 77-71 victory over the defending European champions.
Team captain Andrei Kirilenko, an NBA All-Star two seasons ago with the Utah Jazz, said even though Holden speaks little Russian, he is a big addition to the Russian squad.
"He is one of the three best point guards in Europe, and without a doubt he will strengthen our team," Kirilenko, 24, said of Holden at a news conference last week. "He knows how to play, and we've had no problems understanding one another on or off the floor."

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