Spain went undefeated in Group C after a 75-67 win over Serbia & Montenegro in their last preliminary round game. In a close fought and heated contest Spain came out on top after some big shots by Garbajosa and Navarro in the final minutes.
|Jose Calderon and Djuro Ostojic|
Emotions boiled over at the end as a big brawl started after Pau Gasol grabbed a defensive rebound under his own basket. The fight led to three players on each team being ejected from the game in the final minute. The players ejected were Gurovic, Koturovic and Jaric for Serbia & Montenegro and Garbajosa, Felipe Reyes and Grimau for Spain.
The Serbian players lost their temper after playing yet another game were they did not play up to their usually lofty standards. This game was Serbia & Montenegro's best effort this far in the tournament, but they still could not defeat the impressive Spanish squad. The game was close throughout, as Serbia & Montenegro led after the first, second and third quarter. In the fourth quarter Spain hit some tough shots and got the lead for the first time since the first quarter on a Navarro 3-pointer which made the score 59-58.
Navarro was especially effective for Spain in the final period. He scored 9 of his 22 points in the fourth. Peja Stojakovic, who finished with a game high 25 points on 9-15 shooting, scored on a drive to the basket to make the score 62-63. After this Spanish power forward Jorge Garbajosa stepped up and hit perhaps the biggest shot of the game when he knocked down a 3-pointer to give Spain a 66-62 lead with 2 minutes left.
In the dramatic final two minutes Navarro hit a tough runner in the lane and went 4 of 4 from the line for 6 points, and Gasol had a dunk after Serbia & Montenegro closed to within 3 points in the final two minutes to preserve the lead.
Serbia & Montenegro was able to do a decent job of containing Spanish star Pau Gasol in the first half as he shot only 3 for 9. Serbia & Montenegro came with a hard double team as soon as Gasol caught the ball in the post and they forced him to take some tough shots. In the second half Gasol got going again and he finished the game with 20 points and 6 rebounds. The hero for Spain was Juan Carlos Navarro with his 22 points.
For Serbia & Montenegro Peja Stojakovic played his best game of the tournament with 25 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists. Point guard Marko Jaric also had a good game with 18 points. Serbia & Montenegro now have to depend on Russia to beat Sweden in order to advance to the second round.