|18 July 2011|
U20 European Championship
A great fourth quarter comeback by Spain bestowed the hosting side the ticket to the Quarter-Finals after a 62-57 victory over Ukraine in Group F of the U20 European Championship.
Spain grabbed a 3-0 record to share the top of the group with Italy as both teams complete, together with Russia and France from the parallel group, half of the Quarter-Finals picture.
Ukraine fell to 0-3 but can still make the Quarter-Finals with a quick recovery.
Nikola Mirotic produced a very special night and showed why he's considered one of the top prospects in this competition as he reached 41 points on 70% from the floor, added 14 rebounds and drew 10 fouls.
He scored almost 57% of the total points Spain collected.
Josep Franch added 13 points and great leadership during the comeback.
Oleksandr Lypovyy had 23 points and eight rebounds for the losing side.
Ukraine shocked with a great second half and held a 10 point lead inside the last five minutes of the game, before Spain stepped up on defense and forced a tie within 3:30 minutes.
Down the stretch it was Spain's calm that made the difference, while four of Ukraine's key performers tonight fouled out.
Spain enjoyed the better start but Lypovyy scored his first points at the bottom of the first quarter and put Ukraine on top 14-15, enough to force a 17-17 tie after 10 minutes.
Mirotic on one side and Lypovyy on the other made sure the teams won't be too far apart at the half time break, when Spain led 32-27.
Volodymyr Iegorov and Lypovyy led the way as Ukraine made a 2-12 run right after the break to once again take the lead, but Mirotic answered with jumpers and dunks to make it a 52-52 tie right before the third buzzer.
Yet Ukraine had more armor to spend.Olexandr Mishula and then V'Yacheslav Bobrov with a lay-up were behind 11 unanswered points of Ukraine as the game clock showed 6:10 to play.
A time out by Spain and the return of Josep Franch finally made the difference and the Spanish pressure on defense put Ukraine in trouble.
A Mirotic lay-up tied the score again at 63-63 after Spain answered with 11 points in a row, and Jose Simeon added a pair from the foul line.
Ukraine answered with four points in a row to take a 65-67 lead with 1:25 to play, but that was their last lead of the night.
Mirotic and Franch scored a pair each from the charity stripe, Ukraine turned the ball over and Spain didn't waste the chance to lock the win and complete the big comeback.
On Tuesday Spain will take on Germany when both sides will hope to keep up the good momentum while Ukraine will square up with Turkey as one of the teams will find their debut win in the group.