Resilient Spain See Off Montenegro

16 July 2010

Spain showcased their strength in depth and defensive capabilities at the U20 European Championship Men 2010 in Croatia after Joan Sastre exploded for 19 points off the bench to help seal a comfortable 64-50 success against Montenegro and set up a semi-final clash with France.

The Spanish team locked down Montenegro in the paint and also made life tough for their shooters in the second half as they put the defensive squeeze on to eventually coast to an comfortable victory.

Nikola Mirotic claimed 14 points against the country of his birth while Joseph Franch produced another all-action display with 7 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists.

Unlike the two previous quarter-finals, both teams found some rhythm early and were happy to ease their way into the game. Montenegro were trying to control the Spanish in transition and Spain trying to mix up their run and gun game by getting the ball inside to Mirotic and Ignacio Llovet.

Neither team could make much of an impression although when Joseph Franch nailed a big triple with four seconds left in the opening period,  it handed Spain a 16-11 advantage but not to be outdone, Filip Samojlovic still found time to bury a three-pointer on the buzzer for Montenegro.

Midway through the second there was still little daylight between the teams as a nice move by Bojan Dubljevic in the paint tied the scores up at 21-21. The impressive Joan Sastre then drained a three for Spain and it sparked a critical 12-2 run as they then pushed the ball down the floor and quickly amassed a double-figure lead with two minutes left until the break.

Just when they needed it, Montenegro found a score from outside via Nikola Ljujic but Mirotic replied instantly for a triple of his own before Montenegro finished with a flourish with the last two scores of the half to cut the gap to 36-30.

Spain turned up the defensive heat in the third period and Montenegro wilted. Within five minutes they trailed 46-35 and couldn't make any further inroads as Spain continued to dominate on the glass and be effective in transition.

Vladimir Mihailovic was the only player from Montenegro to reach double-digits with 13 points.

Watch Spain's postgame reaction here.


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