|Albert Homs led Spain once again with 16 points, 6 rebounds and five assists as well as 4 steals|
by Yarone Arbel
Another big drama in the quarter-finals round of the U16 European Championship finished with Spain edging France to take a seat in the Semi-Finals following a 57-56 win at Sports Hall Topolica in Bar, Montenegro on Friday evening.
Spain will face Croatia tomorrow and try to upset the team of Dario Saric in their first encounter in this championship to make the title game.
France will try to recover until tomorrow when they'll take on Russia in the 5-8 Classification Round.
Spain wrote a huge comeback to delete a six points gap in 50 seconds all from the free throw line, when they connected eight shots in eight attempts.
What makes Spain's win even more special as coming to this game they were ranked one before last in Free Throws Percentage with 53.8% and saw three players make eight perfect hits in less than a minute to win the game.
France had the win in their hand but dropped it due to a series of mistakes in the last seconds that helped Spain complete the comeback.
Albert Homs led Spain with 16 points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals and no other teammate reached double-digits.
For France Alexandre Chassang had 16 while Charly Maraux scored 14 until he got injured and left the court at the end of the third quarter.
"Believe, believe and believe...that's how this team work," said Spain's coach Luis Guil right after the buzzer.
"It's amazing that we're such a bad free throw shooting team but we hit all those shots.
"France is a very good team who gave us a lot of trouble when they shut down the paint to stop our penetrations.
"These kids are special. They want to win a medal so much and they will never give up no matter how bad is the situation, like we saw today."
A close first quarter finished with Benjamin Sene hitting a three pointer and Maraux hit a big off-balance shot to beat the buzzer to give France a 12-18 lead after 10 minutes.
Homs started the second quarter with a big one handed jam, as France got stuck on 20 points for a long stretch, and Josep Perez hit a three pointer, and Javier Marin added of his own to make a 10-2 run and give Spain a 29-26 lead inside the last two minutes of the first half.
A three point play by Homs made sure Spain will march to the break with a 34-30 lead and a good momentum, but France came back different to the following quarter.
Spain jumped to 37-32 midway in the third, but came to a halt, and couldn't handle the French defense.
In the next eight minutes they added only four points, while France used their silence to score 16 and with seven minutes to play held a 41-48 lead.
Despite Maraux's injury France found their points in Raphael Binvignat who stepped up in the closing quarter with points from the arc and a couple of drives to the hoop.
Sans connected twice in a row from the arc to complete an 8-0 run by Spain and take a one point lead inside the last five minutes, but France still had weapons.
Binvignat and Chassang wrote seven points in a row and created the 49-55 score with 1:49 to play, but it took Spain one more minute to start their comeback.
Sene made a bad foul on a Perez three point shot, and the Spanish guard hit all of his shots, before Damien Inglis made a turnover at the in-bound.
Homs missed a three point shot to see Chassang, who missed just a single free throw the whole championship until that point, go one of two and keep it 56-52 with 13 seconds to play.
Then Inglis repeated Sene's mistake and sent Homs to the line to shoot three times, and the forward was perfect as well, despite standing on a bit over 50% until that time.
France called a time out with eight seconds on the clock, still up by one, but the in-bound pass went into Spanish hands and in the fast-break Marin was sent to the line.
The Spanish guard completed the unbelievable comeback and a French desperation shot finished with a crying Sene on the court, and a celebrating squad from Spain.