Hernangomez brothers, Fernandez carry Spain into Semi-Finals
BERLIN (Germany) - Spain proved their next generation can be among the best in Europe as well as the three-time winners reached the Semi-Finals of the EuroBasket 2022 with a 100-90 comeback victory over Finland.
After having reached the final eight a record 21st time, Sergio Scariolo guided Spain to their 11th consecutive top-four showing starting in 1999. A crowd of 7,935 spectators saw the Hernangomez brothers Willy and Juancho carry the load with 42 combined points in coming back from 15 points down.
Turning Point: After a hot Spain start, Finland shared the ball and raced ahead 30-19 after 10 minutes with Lauri Markkanen on just 2 points. The Wolfpack three times had increased the advantage to 15 points only to have Spain down 52-43 at the break. The Spanish went on a 16-3 run spanning the break to go up 60-57 midway through the third quarter, which ended with Spain up 73-67. Finland would not go away and were down just 84-82 when Spain unleashed the 11-2 blow including two three-pointers from inspirational captain Rudy Fernandez to lead 95-84 with under 2 minutes to play.
TCL Player of the Game: Willy Hernangomez poured in 27 points - six more than his previous personal EuroBasket best that he set in the Round of 16 versus Lithuania - while also collecting 5 rebounds and 1 block. Finland star Lauri Markkanen did all he could but his 28 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals were just not enough for the Wolfpack.
Stats Don't Lie: Spain had six turnovers after 10 minutes but finished the game with just nine miscues. Finland meanwhile committed 19 turnovers - tying for the second-most for the country in EuroBasket history (21 versus France in 1995). Spain came up with 33 points off those turnovers to 12 for Finland.
Bottom Line: All Spain do at the EuroBasket is win big games prior to the Semi-Finals and the Iberians are back at the stage again with a date with either hosts Germany or tournament title contenders Greece. Finland will return home disappointed about losing but can be pleased with the next step the team has made. After the game, Finnish veterans Petteri Koponen and Shawn Huff both announced their retirement on the court.
They Said: "We had a bad slump the second half of the first quarter and from then on we started to dig step by step. In the locker room we made some adjustments but basically the players showed trust and they were believing in the comeback. And they showed that with facts in the beginning of the third quarter. We had the unbelievable start and we showed one more time cohesiveness, toughness, generosity. We shared the ball very well in the second half. We had a lot of open looks. We made most of them. In the end of the day that's all you can ask for from a team that is so inexperienced and so new in this kind of situation. Togetherness, stick to the game plan, trust yourself, don't lose your concentration, don't lose your faith in your teammates. Keep working and keep fighting and get to the end with options to win and we did it.
(About giving other teams a chance to reach the Semi-Finals) If others don't seize the opportunity this year (laughs) I don't know when they will be able to seize it. We cannot go with a younger, less experienced team." - - Spain coach Sergio Scariolo
"Our first half was really bad. We didn't start the game with the right mentality. At halftime we said we gotta be us. We gotta do our job defensively, offensively. We got stops and ran, and it was more like us. I'm happy because we go to the next round. The guys gave everything. We have a guy 35 years old like Rudy who gives everything he had. This is something unbelievable and we just want to enjoy this moment and go for more." - Willy Hernangomez, Spain
"Spain are in top form even if they have a lot of new players, so credit to them. Especially how they came back at the end of the second quarter and then the third quarter. It was impressive. For some reason we couldn’t answer very quickly and we gave them a lead and that was a big moment in the ball game. In the end, we didn't give up either and I am just proud of my team and my players. - Finland coach Lassi Tuovi
"Remember, this is Finland's first time in the top eight in 50 years. So just to be here and have a puncher’s chance against a powerhouse like Spain I told the guys after the game that they can be proud of themselves. Hold your head up high. You left everything on the court today but Spain was better." - Shawn Huff, Finland