|Daniel Diez was on fire once more for Spain, pouring in a game-high 23 points and pulling down 9 rebounds|
Spain produced an amazing third-quarter display on Friday, giving up only eight points, to pull away from Greece for an 82-60 triumph and a semi-final berth at the Sportland U20 European Championship.
TURNING POINT: Greece called a time-out after Alejandro Suarez scored on an offensive rebound to put Spain ahead 51-42 with 4:31 left in the third quarter; rather than reacting when they returned to the floor, the Greeks turned the ball over two times in a row while Daniel Diez gave Spain their first double-digit lead, 53-42.
GAME HEROES: Daniel Diez hardly sat on the bench to catch his breath all night, but he was superb on offence and the player who gelled Spain's defence on the other end, finishing with a game-high 23 points and adding nine rebounds and two steals.
STATS DON'T LIE: Spain's assists to turnover ratio was 19/12 while Greece's was 11/16; Spain took eight more shots from the floor than their opponents and still shot the ball better than the Greeks, who also missed nine free-throws.
If Spain are to advance any further in this tournament, they will remember Friday's quarter-final encounter against Greece as the game that served as a turning point in their campaign.
In Greece, Spain were facing an opponent that had only one loss in an otherwise perfect championship and yet they entered the court with the conviction of being a far better side.
Spain jumped in the driver's seat right away and, with the exception of short stretch in the first quarter that Greece grabbed the lead, they were always in control until the half-time interval, when they went into the locker rooms with a 40-37 advantage.
The game looked poised for a close finish, when Spain thought they should be getting more out of their focused performance.
When they tightened the screws on defence in the last six minutes of the third quarter, they outscored the Greeks 19-3, a run that was capped in ideal fashion by a Guillem Vives three-pointer right at the buzzer, which gave Spain a 62-45 lead going into the final frame.
Diez twisted the knife in the Greeks' wound with two triples in quick succession and then Jaime Fernandez made a lay-up to give Spain a 23-point lead, 70-47, when there was just 7:20 left to play in the game.
Spain had worked so hard for this enormous difference that did not take their foot off the gas until the final buzzer, and gave up just 60 points to a team that had previously averaged 73.3 per game in the tournament.
In addition to Diez's 23 points, Fernandez finished with 21 points and six assists and Alejandro Suarez chipped in with 14 points.
For Greece, Giannoulis Larentzakis had a team-high 15 points while Lefteris Bochoridis finished with 14 points, five rebounds and four assists in losing efforts.