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Spain defeat France in overtime thriller; Lithuania, Serbia, Turkey also headed to Semi-Finals
BRATISLAVA (FIBA U18 European Championship 2017) - There was plenty of drama in the Quarter-Finals of the FIBA U18 European Championship 2017, especially with Spain completing a double-digit turnaround against France to grab a Semi-Final spot in an 86-85 overtime thriller.
After trailing heavily in the first half, Spain came out of the locker rooms a changed team in the third quarter, mounting a Didac Cuevas-inspired comeback to get back in the game.
The always-energetic point guard, who finished the game with 14 points and 6 steals, fueled the team's second-half run and allowed the Spaniards to steady the ship before dominating the play in the extra period.
"That is his role and he knows it. We need him in these type of situations, breaking up the game both on offense and defense, but I think it was a team effort. One day it's one player, the other – another one, but it's all 12 players as a team that deserve this moment," head coach of the team Joaquin Prado spoke after the game.
Sergi Martinez scored a game-high 21 points and 6 rebounds, while Miguel Gonzalez added 16 points and 7 rebounds. Yanik Blanc had 21 points for the French team.
"We fought well today and played with a high effort for 45 minutes. After a bad second period, especially defensively, we were down by 11 points at the halftime, but we came back into the game with good defense in the 6-7 minutes of the third quarter," Prada said in the mixed zone.
"We had a good chance to finish the game in regular time, but unfortunately couldn't do that. Still, we went up early by 7 points in overtime, but at this point, we were probably a bit afraid to win and had some problems closing out the game."
Turkey maintained their status as the only undefeated team in the competition by also moving on to the medal round with a one-sided 81-63 victory against Greece, with Ragip Atar posting a 22-point and 11-rebound double-double with 2 blocks and 2 steals.
Meanwhile, Lithuania guard Arnas Velicka collected the first triple-double of the tournament with 14 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists to lead Lithuania past Italy 73-67 on the other side of the bracket.
Every single player chipped in for the winners, but Aleksa Matic was the only double-digit scorer for the victors with a team-high 12 points for Serbia, who crushed their opponents on the glass with a 48-23 rebounding edge.
Ukraine got the action rolling with a 78-60 victory against Latvia, Finland managed to turn a 13-point deficit into an 82-67 win over Montenegro, Russia trounced Slovak Republic 76-55, while Germany capped off the day by steamrolling Slovenia with a 91-50 scoreline.