Spain Train Goes Past Russia Into Final

23 July 2011
U20 European Championship

Spain earned a shot at the U20 European Championship title, which would be their first, after completing the frame of the gold medal game with an 87-60 win over Russia in the semi-final.

A two-man show by Nikola Mirotic and Joan Sastre carried Spain for the win over a stubborn opponent that didn't let go until the very last second.

The duo combined 60 points out of Spain's 87 and matched with the 60 the entire team of Russia scored.

Thousands of local fans in the Bilbao Arena pushed their team to the big win that put Spain in the final for the first time since 2007, where Italy are waiting, ready to shock.

Russia will take on France in the bronze medal game in hope to win their second medal ever, and the first since 2005.

Despite the 27-point gap with the final buzzer things didn't go as easily for Spain as the final score implies.

The eventual winners took an early double-digit lead, but saw Russia come back and tie the score mid-way in the second quarter, and stay close behind until late in the third.

Nevertheless, Russia led for just a single minute early in the game and chased Spain from that point onwards.

Mirotic finished with 37 points, 30 of them came even before 30 minutes were played. He connected on 68.2% accuracy and added eight rebounds.

Sastre had 23 points, 10 of them in the closing quarter when Spain took off, next to five rebounds and four assists.

Russia saw only Pavel Antipov reach double-digits with 10 points while Nikita Barinov and Ruslan Tumanov had eight points each.

Antipov scored the first five points of his team, but Spain had a man on fire as well as Sastre was on fire and scored seven points for a 9-5 Spanish lead.

Mirotic joined the storm and also reached seven points to bring Spain to a 14-5 lead after only four minutes.

Sastre picked up his second foul but saw Mirotic dominate with six more points and two assists to reach a total of 13 points in less than eight minutes and in the most accurate way make the difference as Spain led 24-11.

Mirotic went to the bench to rest but Spain didn't stop yet.

Jose Pozas with a big lay-up pushed the gap to 14, but Denis Pastukhov ignited the Russian reply with the last bucket of the first quarter and right after the teams returned to the court Russia completed seven points in a row in a minute to force a time out by Spain.

Spain lost their rhythm as Russia Tumanov scored from the arc and Pastukhov added one of his own for a 33-28 score after 13 minutes.

The Russian shoot-out continued and when Barinov's led the way to a one point game, 34-33.

Barinov added a big dunk to keep Russia close but it was Dmitry Korshakov that tied the score at 37-37 with only three minutes in the first half, yet enough to complete the comeback and start a new game.

Sastre hustled and with a fast-break lay-up and the bonus from the foul line put Spain back on top and together with a Mirotic tip-in and a huge slap by Josep Franch with the buzzer Spain held a 44-39 advantage at the first half break.

It took almost two minutes for the first field goal of the second half, but the pace didn't change as Barinov with big plays under the rim kept Russia close.

An aggressive defense by Spain managed to keep their opponent scoreless for a couple of minutes and Mirotic used it to lead his team back to a double-digit gap, 58-46 and only three minutes to play in the third period.

Mirotic reached 30 as Spain climbed to 60 points still with more than 11 minutes to play, before the teams entered the last quarter with a 62-48 on the scoreboard.

The top scorer didn't rest and stayed active on both ends of the floor, taking Spain to a 15-point difference inside the closing quarter.

Russia tried to come back to the game with points from the arc, but missed three times in a row and Mirotic punished with a lucky shot that created an 18-point gap, 73-55 inside the last five minutes.

A three-pointer by Sastre set the gap on 21 points and cleared any possible fears amongst the local fans.

Spain were back in the title game.


24.07.2011 - U20 European Championship
24.07.2011 - U20 European Championship
24.07.2011 - U20 European Championship
24.07.2011 - U20 European Championship
24.07.2011 - U20 European Championship

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