Marc Rubio hit two clutch three-pointers in the final four minutes of play to lead Spain to an 81-77 win over Serbia & Montenegro in quarter-final round action at the UMCOR U18 European Championship Men in Greece.
The 188-cm guard also hit three clutch free-throws in the waning seconds of the game and pulled down an important rebound to send his team into the semi-finals.
“This is a hard working team and I am so happy that we will have the chance to play in the semis,” said Spanish coach Luis Guil.
|Javier Forcada drives to the basket for Spain.|
With Spain leading by one, Rubio buried a timely three with 3:59 to go in the fourth quarter that gave his side a 71-67 advantage.
Serbia Montenegro responded with a 7-0 run to retake the lead and then the two teams exchanged points from the free throw line.
Trailing by one, Rubio hit another clutch three-pointer with 58 seconds remaining to give Spain a 77-75 lead.
Serbia & Montenegro’s Stefan Markovic misfired on a three and Spain’s Joaquin Colom was fouled.
Colom hit one of two free-throws with 32 seconds remaining, so Serbia & Montenegro still had a chance to tie the game.
Rubio was the man of the hour again, this time pulling down a rebound after a Vladimir Dasic miss.
He was fouled immediately and calmly made both free throws to extend the Spanish lead to 80-75 with nine seconds remaining.
Markovic scored to make it a three-point game with six seconds to go and again Rubio was fouled.
He hit one of two, which made it a two possession game with four seconds remaining, and all but guaranteed Spain’s victory.
“He is a player with a strong character and he likes to have the ball at the end of close games,” said Spain’s coach Luis Guil.
“He knows how to make the pressure shots.”
“I was ready for those shots,” said Rubio, who finished the game with 21 points.
“I am always ready for them.”
Serbia & Montenegro jumped out to a 14-3 lead but Spain responded to with a run of their own and finished the first quarter trailing 21-18.
Serbia & Montenegro led 38-36 at halftime and never trailed in the third as they increased their advantage to five points going into the fourth, 61-56.
Spain went on an 8-2 run to start the fourth. Colom’s drive to the basket gave the Spanish a 66-65 advantage with 6:20 – their first lead in the second half - and that set the stage for Rubio’s heroics.