By Yarone Arbel
A unique experience took place today in Group C on day two of the Omnitel U16 European Championship Men when Spain beat Germany 79-40.
The Spanish team managed to keep Germany on 0 points in the last quarter on their way to a 2-0 record and a spot in the next round.
Germany dropped to 1-1 and already has a crucial game against Croatia on their mind.
Alejandro Suarez led Spain with 16 points, Jaime Fernandez added 14 while Jorge Sanz finished with 11.
Julius Wolf was the sole player in Germany to score in double-digits with ten points - one quarter of his team's total.
Spain was on top of the game right from the start. Their intensity was too much for the German team to handle.
"The two main points for our team is team play and defense - we did both of them good today and that's why we won," said the winning coach Diego Ocampo.
"In the first half we missed some free throws and allowed them to play their game too much, and that's why it took us time to create the big gap," he added.
Daniel Diez was the key for Spain's first run in the first quarter when an 18-11 gap was created.
Suarez and Fernandez joined forces before the break to make it a double-digit lead, and enter half time up 43-30.
Germany fought back when Paul Albrecht completed a good three-point play but the gap remained in the light teens.
Seven points in a row at the last lane of the third quarter made it a 20 point gap game, 60-40 and the unique quarter was about to start.
The teams took two different approaches.
While Spain continued to pressure and play intense on defense, the German coach, Frank Menz, allowed his best players some rest before the big game against Croatia tomorrow.
The German back ups had difficulty to reach the rim, and their attempts from distance failed short again and again, leaving their team on a round figure at the end of the quarter.
Spain will take on the Czech Republic tomorrow with a big desire to remain perfect, while Germany will take on Croatia in a game that could make a lot of difference for their future in this tournament.
Croatia Earn First Win
Croatia got their first win, 70-68, in the Omnitel U16 European Championship Men after a hard-nosed battle against the Czech Republic.
Yesterday Croatia lost to Spain in overtime by two points. Today they weren't very far from another loss, but found the winning spirit to go to 1-1 and take some of the pressure off.
The Czech Republic deserve every compliment in the fighting spirit book for a great challenge that was just a bit short of enough.
The loss sends the Czechs to fight against relegation to Division B regardless of the score against Spain tomorrow, while Croatia will take on Germany tomorrow when the two teams will battle for the second spot in the group.
Antonio Boban hit 16 points to lead the scoring sheet of Croatia. Dario Saric added 14 with seven rebounds, Marko Ramljak had 13 and Matej Bouvac finished with 12.
Martin Kriz collected 17 points and nine boards for the losing side and Lubos Lachman added 16, but missed a chance to send the game to overtime.
With less than two seconds on the clock Lachman went to the line for the first time with his team down by two.
He missed the first shot, and tried to miss the second on purpose to take the offensive rebound and save the game, but that didn't work as well and the Czechs lost.
"We were very nervous, because we needed this win to continue our run in the championship," said Damir Rajkovic, head coach of the Croatian team.
"In such tournament the first win is always the most difficult to get, and after we were so close yesterday I'm happy that we managed to pull it through today," he added.
"I hope from now on we'll play with less pressure and our game will look better."
The lead changed ten times during a game that was tied six more times and showed just how nervous both teams were.
The swing started already in the first quarter, but the Czechs were the first to take over with a 25-16 lead down the stretch.
Saric led his team on a 10-0 run to take the lead back, but not too far ahead and at the break Croatia held a 37-36 lead.
Boban scored five in a row out of the locker room, but Lachman was on fire at the other end, and the teams continued to stay glued to each other.
A little under six minutes on the game clock and Lachman tied the game at 58-58 just before a shooting range took place.
Buovan scored one from long distance, but quickly saw Bernath copy him at the other end.
The two players exchanged three balls one more time, before it was time for Boban to show his shooting skills as well.
Bernath tied once more with his third three pointer in a row and the teams entered the last minute in a 67-67 tie.
Ramljak scored twice from the line while Kriz done that just once.
Martin Junakovic copied Kriz with 16 seconds on the clock, to give Croatia the two point lead, before Lachman missed the big chance.