Macedonia fairytale as Lithuania sent packing
Updated: 2011-09-16 07:50
KAUNAS, Lithuania - Macedonia's Cinderella story at the 2011 European Championship continued on Wednesday with a shock 67-65 victory over host Lithuania which booked a place in the semifinals and a date with reigning champion Spain.
Bo McCalebb collected 23 points while Valdo Ilievski had 12 points and nailed the game-winning three-pointer with 11.3 seconds left.
Lithuania had a chance to tie the game but Simas Jasaitis missed a jumper with two seconds left and Pero Antic grabbed the rebound.
"It feels good man. We got a big win today, beating Lithuania on their home court and all their fans. It's a big thing," said McCalebb.
The victory is arguably one of the biggest upsets in European Championship history.
"On their home court, they're hosting the tournament in front of their home fans. Yes, it's an upset," said McCalebb, who went out to the court after talking to reporters to celebrate with the Macedonia fans who remained in their seats waiting for their heroes.
The American-born star said his team had been able to play relaxed the whole tournament because it has been underdogs throughout the event.
"It's been like this the whole time. Everybody has been against us. Today everybody was against us. There were 15,000 fans against us but we pulled it out," said McCalebb.
In the final 90 seconds, McCalebb twice drove to the basket and made tough lay-ups to keep Macedonia in the game.
Macedonia was trailing 65-63 when McCalebb missed a lay-up, but Vojdan Stojanovski stole the ball from Darius Songalia with 27 seconds left.
McCalebb then passed the ball to Vlado Ilievski, who nailed a three-pointer from the right wing to give Macedonia a lead it would not relinquish.
In Friday's semifinals, Macedonia will take on heavy favorite Spain.
Juan Carlos Navarro scored 17 of his 26 points in the third quarter as Spain blasted past Slovenia 86-64 to reach the semis. Mirza Begic and Erazem Lorbek combined for 13 of their 17 points in the first quarter in pushing Slovenia ahead 23-16 after one stanza.
The lead actually appeared to be 26-16 but Samo Udrih's three-pointer was disallowed having been ruled taken after the buzzer.
Spain began in the second quarter to take advantage of Slovenia turnovers and led 35-31 at the break, holding Slovenia to just eight points in the period. Navarro came out of halftime on fire, hitting three three-pointers and making seven of nine shots in the period.
"We are happy to have reached another goal - the semifinals," said Spain coach Sergio Scariolo.
"We allowed only 10 points in the second quarter and first five minutes of the third quarter. This changed the tempo of the game and Navarro's explosion definitely broke open the game."
Pau Gasol collected 19 points and 16 rebounds for Spain.
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