Aguilar Leads Spain Into Semis

By David Hein

Pablo Aguilar scored 10 of his 12 points in a crucial 10-0 fourth quarter run to carry Spain to the semi-finals of the U20 European Championship with a 77-60 victory over Turkey.

Xavier Rabaseda led the way with 18 points and four steals while Pere Tomas had 14 points and nine rebounds and Mamadou Samb added 13 points and seven rebounds for Spain, who out-rebounded Turkey 43-33 including 17 offensive rebounds.

"We knew this would be a very hard game. But we played like a team. We tried to play a little more inside-outside. Mamadou and Sergio De La Fuente did a good job inside," said Aguilar, who also had eight rebounds and two blocks.

"We just tried to play great defense. And on offense take the best shot at the moment."

In the semis on Saturday Gustavo Aranzana's Spaniards will play either hosts Greece or Croatia, who play their quarter-final later in the day. The Greeks beat Spain 70-67 in the qualifying Group E play.

"It doesn't matter who we play. We just want to win the game and go to the final. If we play Greece we know they have the talent but we have talent too," said Aguilar, who did not play against Greece due to an ankle injury.

Turkey were led by Can Ozcan with 18 points, six rebounds and two blocks. Melih Mahmutoglu added 11 points in the loss.

Spain were already leading 11-8 when Aranzana had his guards drive into the lane or feed the ball into the paint. And the Turks could not handle the measure as Spain used an 11-4 run to lead 25-12 after one period.

Spain continued to control play and used three three-point plays to push the advantage to 20 points - 42-22. But Mahmutoglu sandwiched three-pointers around an Ibrahim Yildirim trey on three consecutive possessions to cut the gap to 42-31. Rabaseda however drained a triple and the lead was 45-31 at intermission.

Aranzana's men refused to let Turkey back into the game and the gap was 56-38 after Luis Parejo's triple. Yildirim, however, knocked down two more three-balls and Ozcan also nailed his second long ball of the quarter to trim Spain's lead to 58-47 after three periods.

The fourth quarter was Aguilar's time to shine, scoring all 10 points in an early 10-0 run to re-establish a 19-point lead at 68-49. And Turkey would not get closer than 12 points the rest of the way.


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