Croatia Heroics Not Enough As Spain Grab Bronze


A sparkling double-double of 20 points and 15 rebounds by Nikola Mirotic propelled Spain to a thrilling 86-79 win over Croatia as they secured themselves a podium finish by beating the hosts to third spot in a pulsating overtime game at the U20 European Championship Men 2010 in Zadar.

With the contest drifting listlessly towards a comfortable win for Spain who held a double-figure lead after three-quarters, Croatia finally exploded into life and launched a final quarter perimeter onslaught which almost cost Spain dearly.

However crucially for the home team, influential marquee player Mario Delas fouled out in the closing stages of regulation time and Croatia eventually ran out of steam as Spain celebrated triumphantly on the final buzzer.

12. Nikola Mirotic (Spain)
Nikola Mirotic was inspirational for Spain

It might not have made up completely for the bitter disappointment of their loss to France in the semi-finals only 24 hours earlier but judging by their reaction to this victory, it went some way to healing those wounds.

Mirotic certainly wasn't the only Spanish player to produce impressive numbers with Josep Franch (watch his postgame reaction here) and the rejuvenated Joan Sastre combining for 42 points.

While the boisterous and noisy home fans inside Kresimir Cosic Hall ended up witnessing successive losses, nobody could say their team didn't fight - even if it did take thirty minutes to really shine and put the result back in doubt.

Spain had managed to get their noses in front early and they stayed there until the late comeback by Croatia who trailed 56-45 heading into the last ten minutes. The home team started scoring from everywhere and soon tied up the game before surging ahead.

The momentum swung furiously back and forth with Delas at the heart of everything as was Dino Butorac who finished with 18 points including five triples.

In the end though it was the work of Mirotic inside that proved decisive in overtime and particularly with Delas fouled out and sat on the bench.

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