|Nikola Ivanovic rebounded from his weaker performance the day before to put up 30 points and 9 rebounds in the spectacular win|
by Yarone Arbel
Despite the hard loss yesterday Montenegro bounced back with a big 68-63 win over Spain in the U16 European Championship at Sports Hall Topolica in Bar, Montenegro on Wednesday night.
The teams arrived to the game knowing the winner will win Group F and fought with teeth till the final buzzer, before Montenegro stepped up with the last plays.
Both teams share a 4-1 record at the top of the group, but the hosts enjoy the tie-breaker win with today's win.
In the quarter-finals Montenegro will face Lithuania, Spain will take on France as the third place team Turkey will meet with Serbia and Russia will play against Croatia.
Nikola Ivanovic had another huge night with 30 points, nine rebounds, four assists, three steals and one block shot to lead his team in all five categories and was followed by Milija Mikovic with 11 points.
Spain had Guillermo Hernangomez with 16 points, nine rebounds, three steals and two blocks and right behind him were Javier Marin with 11 and Josep Perez with 10.
The Spanish team saw their main player Albert Homs limited to his worst performance in the tournament with four points in two out of nine from the field and three turnovers, but lost the fight on the boards 37-25.
Montenegro got big minutes from Ivanovic also in the crunch time to cover for 26 turnovers that almost cost them the game under the big pressure of the Spanish defense.
"We're not happy to lose, but the good thing is that this loss came now and not in the quarter-finals as you could see from today's game we still don't have a lot of experience in close games," explained Luis Guil of the Spanish bench.
"We still don't know who should get those balls and what to do with those balls, but it's a young team that obviously still needs to learn things, and I hope we'll know these things in the next games."
Ivanovic was on fire from the start and set his team on 17-6 after six minutes, but saw Agusti Sans cut it to only 21-17 early in the second quarter.
Marin scored from the arc and Hernangomez obviously fixed an offensive rebound to put Spain on top 24-25 and continued with four more points to cap a 1-12 run.
Ivanovic connected five points in a row to tie the score, but Spain had the last word and a three pointer right before the half time buzzer made it 30-35 in their favour after 20 minutes.
Montenegro once again went with Ivanovic who put his team back on top with an 8-2 run to take the lead back in their hands, and finish the third up by a single point, 44-43.
Perez with a pair of three pointers in 25 seconds pushed Spain to 47-53 and things started to feel tight for the hosts, but the push of the local fans and who else but Ivanovic inspired a 7-0 run and soon Montenegro were on top for good.
Spain still cut it back to 66-63 with 52 seconds on the game clock but Ivanovic was in the spot to hit his last bucket, make it a five point game and place his team on top of their group.