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Sunday review: Spain shatter local dreams; Latvia advance to face Slovenia
ISTANBUL (EuroBasket 2017) - Defending champions Spain dashed local hopes after pulling out a gritty 73-56 victory over hosts Turkey to highlight the second bracket of the Round of 16.
In a day of relatively one-sided contests, Spain was pushed by an inspired Turkey, who kept fighting back, much to the delight of the loud capacity crowd at Sinan Erdem Arena.
Spain's margin was just six points midway through the fourth before Ricky Rubio (12-of-15 points in the fourth) stepped up with clutch shooting to ensure their bid to repeat as champions remains on track.
The margin blew out at the end and flattered Spain, who will meet Germany in the Quarter-Finals.
"They (Turkey) played tough and played hard," Spain coach Sergio Scariolo said. "But I'm proud of my team. They controlled their nerves and never panicked. We kept our composure."
A ruthless Latvia was too much for Montenegro, winning 100-68 in the second bracket of the Round of 16 to setup a mouthwatering Quarter-Final with unbeaten Slovenia.
Latvia dominated from the get go through hot shooting and with a total team effort as eight players got on the scoreboard in the first quarter. Latvia blew the game open late in the second quarter and cruised from there, even managing to notch triple figures for the first time this tournament.
Kristaps Porzingis continued to defy physics with some of his aerial finishes but Janis Timma was the standout with a fine all-round game of 21 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists.
"From the beginning we played our basketball," Porzingis said. "We played fast and shot from the outside. As soon as we got the rebound, we were just running, which is what we wanted to do against them."
Serbia booked a Quarter-Final clash with Italy after a comfortable 86-78 victory over Hungary in the Round of 16.
Serbia made the early running before Hungary fought back late in the first-half and the second-half was a near mirror image. Hungary got within 7 points early in the fourth but Serbia steadied with their dominance on the inside, becoming too much for Hungary to handle.
Ognjen Kuzmic was a handful for Hungary all game and finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds in a commanding performance.
The game between Russia and Croatia loomed as a tight affair on paper and went according to script in the first-half as little separated the teams in an entertaining spectacle.
However, Russia took control in the second-half and were led by a scintillating performance by Alexsei Shved, who spearheaded his team to a convincing 101-78 victory over Croatia and a Quarter-Final date with Greece.
Shved had 27 points and 12 assists to dominate a fading Croatia, who would be disappointed at their exit after high hopes coming into the tournament.